Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

NYC Council approves cap on app-based ride-hail vehicles, citing congestion

NYC Council approves cap on app-based ride-hail vehicles, citing congestion

They say the growth of ride-hailing apps has also worsened traffic congestion. Although a number of cities have tried to shut down Uber and Lyft altogether, or attempted to force the companies to operate exactly the same as taxicabs, this marks the first time a major city has passed legislation that will regulate ride-hailing apps as their own industry.

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said the councils" vote set a precedent for the world as companies like Uber and Lyft use technological innovation "to return us to a time of sweated labor, destroying lives and livelihoods across the planet'. Those wage concerns aren't limited to taxi drivers, though - in fact, the New York Times reports that almost 40 percent of the city's ride-hailing drivers qualify for Medicaid because their take-home wages are that low.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he meant to sign the bills into law, which would start the 12-month period where no new for-hire vehicle licenses would be issued, with an exception for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. He said he intends to sign the bill. It also establishes a minimum wage for drivers, who had previously been exempt from the state's higher than average hourly compensation requirements.

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Ride-hailing companies aren't exactly pleased.

And Josh Gold, a spokesman for Uber, told Tthe Times in a statement that the cap "will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion".

But Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, a Democrat, said Uber will still be available despite the moratorium on new cars.

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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.

'Uber as you know it is going to be Uber as you know it, ' Cumbo said. "We can not allow the so-called "gig economy" companies to exploit loopholes in the law in order to strip workers of their rights and protections".

The cap has two carve-outs: There's no limit on new wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and neighborhoods that can show they are under-served could get added cars.

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City planners have argued in favor of measures to curb the growth of app-based services, which is most acute in city centers. Uber and Lyft support congestion-based road pricing in part because it targets all private vehicles, rather than singling out ride-sharing. But studies have shown Uber increases traffic congestion in major urban areas, including Manhattan, in part by pulling from more sustainable modes.

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