New York City could become the first major American city to cap the number of Uber, Lyft, and similar vehicles on the streets, the New York Times reports.
City officials claim that the explosive growth of ride-hailing services has caused lower driver wages, and worsened congestion. The city council is considering legislation that would set a limit on Uber, Lyft and similar vehicles, and although Mayor Bill de Blasio has not fully backed them, he has suggested that the time to intervene has come.
The city council’s proposal would halt the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses for all vehicles except for those that are wheelchair accessible, and set minimum pay rules for drivers.
City council speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat, told the New York Times that the goal is to “protect drivers, bring fairness to the industry and reduce congestion.”
This is not the first time that New York City has tried and regulate what has transformed New York’s transportation networks. In 2015, Mayor de Blasio attempted to cap the number of Uber vehicles on city streets, but his initiative failed. Since 2015, the number of for-hire vehicles in New York has risen from a little over 60,000 to more than 100,000 vehicles, according to the New York Times.
Dissatisfied with the proposal, Uber spokesman Josh Gold suggested in a statement to the NYT that the city council’s cap on Uber vehicles will actually do nothing to prevent congestion, or help taxi medallion owners. It will, instead, hurt those who do not have reliable access to public transit.
“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.”
As Tech Crunch reported, when de Blasio attempted to cap the number of Uber vehicles for the first time, the rideshare company launched a “De Blasio’s Uber” mode. Meant to protest the then-proposed bill, the feature showed a wait time of 25 minutes message, and prompted users to take action and send an email to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city council opposing the proposed bill.
According to Reason, the city is moving to cap the number of for-hire vehicles because the New York subway system is in a state of crisis. Maintenance problems, and a constant need for repairs has made the city’s subway system “miserable,” so officials have decided to make a move at the rideshare industry, a relatively easy target.