Uber, a San Francisco based startup that allows users to download an app to hail private drivers and in some cities, taxicabs, on their smartphones, has ended the taxi-hailing portion of its business in New York just a little over a month after it launched in the city, the company said in a blog post Tuesday.
As Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, an avowed free-market Objectivist and Ayn Rand fan, wrote in the blog post:
Unfortunately, as many of you have noticed, there haven’t been enough available TAXIs. Demand far out-stripped supply, making you feel pretty lucky when you got a yellow from your iPhone. We did the best we could to get more yellows on the road but New York’s TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission) put up obstacles and roadblocks in order to squash the effort around e-hail, which they privately have said is legal under the rules. We’ll bite our tongues and keep our frustration here to ourselves.
The Verge first reported on the news, noting that Uber was texting drivers that it worked with and asking them to return Uber-issued smartphones, though Uber denied this was due to the shutdown.
Betabeat earlier reported that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission had said that Uber was not licensed to operate legally in the city, but Uber continued to do so anyway and wasn't once cited, as Kalanick told Betabeat Tuesday. The TLC told the blog that consideration of legalizing Uber in the Big Apple has to wait until February 15th, 2013, when the TLC's existing contracts with payment providers expired.