City Council passes bill that caps licenses for for-hire vehicles

Daniel Fowler
August 9, 2018

Independent Drivers Guild founder Jim Conigliaro Jr. and Fox News contributor Liz Peek discuss New York's vote to cap the number of ride-sharing vehicles allowed in the city.

The New York City Council on Wednesday passed a cap on Uber, Lyft and other for-hire vehicles in the city along with a minimum wage for drivers, becoming the first city in the nation to impose such sweeping measures to offset the growth of the ride-hailing industry.

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

"The City's 12-month pause on new vehicle licenses will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion", the company said in a statement.

"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.

During the freeze, the Taxi and Limousine Commission and Department of Transportation will study driver income, traffic congestion, efficient use of vehicles and service impact in different areas. "Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock", de Blasio said. But critics said it will make it harder, and more expensive, to get around.

"We will never stop working to ensure New Yorkers have access to reliable and affordable transportation in every borough", he said. 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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But public sentiment has changed, said Johnson, as the number of hired cars has exploded: there are more than 100,000 Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno drivers on the road, up from 65,000 there years ago. The Times reported that Uber, which regained its license to operate for 15 months, agreed to report incidents to the police and share traffic data with the city, among other new measures.

"No one is going to be destroyed by what happened today", Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said after the vote.

Debt and financial hardship have been blamed for the deaths of six taxi and car-service drivers in the previous year.

"Workers and NY leaders made history today".

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.

But opponents said Uber and Lyft provide needed service to neighborhoods outside Manhattan that are poorly served by yellow cabs. Which, as Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) put it, "is like putting a cap on Netflix subscriptions because Blockbusters are closing". By passing the proposal, NY becomes the first city in the country to impose these limitations.

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