Three years after they first considered one, the City Council is mulling a cap on Uber and other ride-hail services.
In the time since 2015, Uber rides officially outpaced NYC taxi rides; ride-hail companies are clogging city streets; and the MTA is now blaming them for a drop in subway and bus ridership. Most alarming, the ride-share apps have decimated the taxi industry, with numerous yellow cab drivers facing bankruptcy because of declining business Some have tragically taken their own lives.
Listen to WNYC’s Stephen Nessen discusses the proposed legislation:
The NY Times reports, "The proposal supported by the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, would halt the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses, except for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, while the city conducts a yearlong study of the industry." Politico adds,"A draft bill circulating among industry stakeholders would bar the city's taxi regulator from issuing any new for-hire vehicle licenses for a year, during which time the regulator would report to the Council on the bill's impact."
Johnson, who admitted that the city made a mistake in not regulating Uber earlier, said in a statement, "This is the plan that we came up with and in my heart I believe it’s the best path forward. Our goal has always been to protect drivers, bring fairness to the industry and reduce congestion. That’s what this proposal does, and it represents the broad outlines of what we think our next steps should be as a city to help the industry."
Council Member Stephen Levin (Brooklyn) is sponsoring the bill, which is being paired "with a measure sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander... that would establish a minimum fare for drivers dispatched by a 'high-volume' for-hire service," according to Politico, which also got a PDF of Levin's draft bill.
Mayor Bill de Blasio had encouraged the 2015 cap on Uber, writing in an op-ed, "Our goal is to ensure that our streets aren't flooded with tens of thousands more cars before we can stand up new rules to govern the marketplace." This time around, his spokesman Eric Phillips told the Times, "The mayor was out front on this issue when few people were. He is pleased it’s getting the attention it deserves from the Council." (Governor Cuomo, in 2015, urged the Council not to cap Uber and praised the company.)
An Uber spokesman said, "The City Council's Uber cap will leave New Yorkers stranded while doing nothing to prevent congestion, fix the subways and help struggling taxi medallion owners. The Council's cap will hurt riders outside Manhattan who have come to rely on Uber because their communities have long been ignored by yellow taxis and do not have reliable access to public transit."
"This would take New York back to an era of standing on the corner and hoping to get a ride. Wait times would increase significantly and driver earnings and job opportunities would shrink," a Lyft spokesperson said. "Worst of all, the proposals prioritize corporate medallion owners above the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers."