NYC reins in Uber with cap on ride-hail vehicles

Jeannie Matthews
August 9, 2018

NY has become the first major U.S. city to approve a cap on ride-hail vehicle licences and set minimum pay conditions for drivers.

The Council also agreed to impose a minimum wage for ride-hail drivers recommended by a recent study commissioned by the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Uber hit back Wednesday, saying the 12-month pause would threaten one of the city's "few reliable transportation options" - a swipe at a burgeoning subway crisis - "while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion".

Leading up to the vote, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said lawmakers aren't against the ride-hailing newcomers.

The City Council approved a package of bills that included a one-year moratorium on new licenses for for-hire vehicles while the city studies the rapidly changing industry.

Supporters of the law, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, said it will ease gridlock and improve wages.

"Uber will do whatever it takes to keep up with growing demand and we will not stop working with city and state leaders... to pass real solutions like comprehensive congestion pricing", a spokesperson said.

In a statement, Lyft decried the measure's passage - arguing the cap would make hailing a ride more hard across the city, particularly in less dense areas. "We will never stop working to ensure New Yorkers have access to reliable and affordable transportation in every borough". The study recommended a $17.22 hourly minimum wage after expenses, arguing the measure would cover the costs of owning and driving a vehicle in the city and allow for paid time off. City officials would set the wage.

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The TLC, which regulates taxis and is a powerful force in NY politics, commissioned a study recently in a bid to underscore the chaos and push city authorities into taking action.

"This victory belongs to yellow cab, green cab, livery, black vehicle, Uber and Lyft drivers who united together in our union to transform our shared struggle and heartbreak into hope and strength", Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the NYTWA, said in a statement.

In Europe, transportation authorities in London cracked down on Uber's services last fall, withdrawing its license to operate in the city, which is Uber's largest European market, according to The New York Times.

"Max" from RideShare Drivers United has also welcomed the move in NY.

But opponents said Uber and Lyft provide needed service to neighborhoods outside Manhattan that are poorly served by yellow cabs.

'Uber as you know it is going to be Uber as you know it, ' Cumbo said.

New York's move could shape regulations being considered in other cities concerned by the rise of ridesharing services.

The move to tighten regulation in NY was in part prompted by several recent driver suicides.

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