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New York Car Service Companies Go Digital

Facing tough competition from Uber, New York City's neighborhood car service providers are using apps to retain clientele. The jury's still out on whether adaptation will help them stay in business.
August 31, 2015, 7am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Jason Lawrence

In addition to yellow cabs, private car service companies (often driving the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Car) face increasing pressure from Uber. They recognize that apps have taken center stage in the ride-hailing business. 

"Uber's rapid expansion has fed industry unease, especially among yellow-taxi owners and drivers, who see the ride-hailing apps as a threat to the value of the medallions that, at a considerable cost, have long provided entry into the tightly controlled business." Now car and limo services are feeling the crunch too, and have deployed their own apps to keep patrons loyal. 

Multiple New York car services—previously competitors—have joined forces against their common foe. They "devised a network where each company could have its own app with its own brand, but that would link all of the bases to one software system so that companies could effectively pool their cars and serve more customers."

One notable advantage taxis and car services have over Uber: "They take cash. Uber relies exclusively on credit cards — and customers with the means to have credit cards."

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Published on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 in The New York Times
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