New York just became the first city in the nation to cap the number of ride-sharing vehicles on its streets and require Uber, Lyft, and other companies to pay drivers a minimum rate.
The New York City Council approved a package of bills Wednesday that includes implementing a one-year freeze on new for-hire vehicle licenses as the city explores ways of reducing traffic congestion.
Supporters of the law, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, said it will ease gridlock and improve wages. But critics said it will make it harder, and more expensive, to get around.
“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,” said Uber spokesperson Danielle Filson.
The one-year cap — which won’t apply to wheelchair accessible vehicles or in certain underserved areas deemed not to be affected by congestion — is intended to make way for a study on longer term regulations and standards for the industry. It comes in the wake of reports about the declining price of taxi medallions and taxi driver suicides.
There’s also an eclipsing number of ride-hailing vehicles on the road compared to taxis: About 80,000 drivers in the city are affiliated with four ridehailing companies — Juno, Lyft, Uber and Via — according to a recent report from The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. That’s in contrast to 14,000 taxi drivers.
“Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock,” the mayor said in a tweet. “The unchecked growth of app-based for-hire vehicle companies has demanded action — and now we have it.”