The New York City Council just passed legislation to temporarily cap ride-sharing vehicles in the city for a full year. They started considering the proposed bills weeks ago to freeze the amount of licenses granted in order to study the growing industry. New York will be the first major US city to limit the number of vehicles operating under Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing providers — and, by passing another bill, let the city establish a minimum pay rate for app-based drivers.
Now the legislation heads for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desk, who is expected to sign it. He tried to cap Uber back in 2015 when there were 63,000 ride-hailing cars in the city, but was unsuccessful; Now, it’s over 100,000. The only vehicles not affected by the new limits are those with wheelchair accessibility.
Lyft and Uber criticized the city council’s actions, and both emphasized their commitment to easing congestion in NYC by reducing the number of cars on the road through other methods and long-term infrastructure investment. This includes congestion pricing, a fundraising scheme introducing a new toll for drivers entering Manhattan’s most car-clogged neighborhoods. Lyft noted that the actions will particularly affect communities of color and those in the outer boroughs.
“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,” Uber spokesperson Josh Gold told The New York Times in a statement. The company proceeded to tell that publication that it would immediately start attempting to recruit tens of thousands of already-licensed for-hire vehicle owners to work for Uber.
The Amalgamated Transit Union, on the other hand, applauded the city council’s actions as a step toward protecting rideshare drivers, thousands of which have joined the union. In a statement, its international president Lawrence Hanley rebuked Uber, Lyft and other companies. In his words, they have “structured their workforce to abuse drivers, withholding a livable wage, affordable health insurance, overtime pay, retirement plans, workers’ compensation coverage, unemployment insurance and the right to join a union to collectively bargain on their own.”
The legislation passed today also requires ride-sharing companies to have a minimum pay rate for drivers. The Independent Drivers Guild, which claims to represent over 65,000 employees of such services in NYC, lauded the city council measures for effectively giving them raises across-the-board.