Support One of New York’s Best Traditions—Take a Taxi!

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I like modern, digital tools. They’re fun, they’re fascinating, they’re addictive.

But I’m old-school, too. What does that mean, coming from a Boomer, who’s nostalgic for push-button real phones, retro furnishings, rock ‘n’ roll from the ‘70s and actual, bound, printed books?

It means, that as a true New Yorker, I take a lot of taxis. Those who know me realize that my Metro card is months old and barely used. I’m hopping a cab more often than not. I know the best spots to find them, how to spot them 3 blocks away and how to point out the best routes crosstown and downtown.

Yes, the digital revolution has damaged the NYC taxicab business. Mobile apps and lower prices from Uber, Lyft, Via and others have permanently dented the cost of a medallion yellow taxi and the livelihoods offered to those drivers.

Have I ever summoned an Uber? Yes, I confess, the app is on my phone. And, yes, they’re convenient. But so is raising my arm, spotting an “on” taxi light and jumping into a traditional yellow taxi, with an authentic, NY cabby driver, and making my way around.

Some recent news reports have been encouraging for Big Apple traditionalists like me. Yellow taxis are still out-performing Uber, Fortune reported last summer. According to a report by Morgan Stanley, there were 11.1 million taxi trips in April 2016 in NYC, compared with 4.7 million Uber trips.

Rival ride-hailing company Lyft provided about 750,000 trips during the month. Those 11.1 million taxi rides represent a 9 percent drop from a year earlier, however, as Uber’s rose 121 percent. Taxi drivers gave twice as many rides per week as Uber drivers with 91 vs. 44 respectively, according to the research

Crain’s New York reported last June that the yellow-cab industry is showing the first inklings of a comeback. This is partly a result of dissatisfied Uber/Lyft drivers. In January 2016, there were 6.2 percent fewer yellow-cab drivers on the road than in the same month of 2015. By April, with 30,488 drivers, the gap with the same month in the prior year had narrowed to 3.4 percent.

Digital revolutions transform tried and true solutions in business and society. Yes, they “disrupt.”

But sometimes disruption is overrated—let’s try not to always abandon tried and true for shiny and new.

Welcome to New York, Vision Expo East show-goers. Take a taxi!

maxelrad@jobson.com