New York City votes to cap Uber, Lyft vehicle licenses

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New York City votes to cap Uber, Lyft vehicle licenses

At the end of July, we learned that the New York City Council was looking into capping the number of ride-sharing vehicles in the city while it tried to figure out related issues like congestion. "Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock", de Blasio said. The same companies are now pushing back on the new proposals, including telling users through social media and on their apps that the legislation could make rides more scarce and more expensive.

The package of bills approved Wednesday by the New York City Council calls for, among other things, a one-year freeze on new for-hire vehicle licenses as the city explores ways of reducing traffic congestion.

"It's critical for New York to regulate minimum fare rates - the only source of income for drivers - across the taxi and app-dispatch sectors, so no worker gets left behind", wrote councilmember Adrienne Adams in a New York Times op-ed.

For-hire drivers and their supporters rally in favor of proposed New York City legislation that would put a cap on ride-hailing vehicles outside the headquarters of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which also houses offices of Uber and Lyft, August 6, 2018 in New York City.

Licenses for new ride-hailing vehicles in the city are about to get scarce.

Six city taxi drivers have committed suicide in recent months under the financial pressure, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Around 80,000 drivers work for at least one of the big four app-based companies in NY, compared to 13,500 yellow cab drivers, it found.

The first such cap by any major USA city was part of a package of measures that also includes setting a minimum wage for drivers.

Not surprisingly, Uber and Lyft released statements criticizing the motion by the New York City council.

"We will never stop working to ensure New Yorkers have access to reliable and affordable transportation in every borough", he said.

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

At the same time, the value of the medallions that are required to operate a yellow cab has plunged from more than $1million to $200,000 or less, forcing many medallion owners into bankruptcy. Several thousand more drivers worked for black auto companies that dispatched vehicles by phone, mostly in the outer boroughs of Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn, where yellow cabs generally wouldn't travel. "We will survive, '" he said.

"We're really concerned about the process and the speed with which the council is trying to ram this through", said Joseph Okpaku, vice president of public policy at Lyft.

Supporters of ride-hailing services say they are needed, especially outside of Manhattan, where it can be hard to hail a yellow cab. London cab drivers are planning legal action hoping to receive "millions of pounds in lost earnings".

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

"This is an industry that has seen explosive growth over the last three years", said Johnson. Uber is not going away'. "That doesn't mean those flaws couldn't be remedied without destroying the system", he added.

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