NY 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 regulations, which restrict new licenses from being issued and stipulate a minimum wage for drivers, last for one year, and are the first of their kind to be imposed in a USA city.
The legislation before the Council calls for a 12-month moratorium on most new for-hire vehicle licenses to give the city time to study how the rapid expansion of ride-hailing services affects the city's traffic, and how the council can ensure drivers of hired cars and yellow cabs earn a living wage. They say the growth of ride-hailing apps has also worsened traffic congestion.
During the year that ride-sharing drivers are capped, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will perform a study on the effect of such services on the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker, say the bill will help cut down on the amount of congestion on the streets of NY.
"Uber will do whatever it takes to keep up with growing demand and we will not stop working with city and state leaders... to pass real solutions like comprehensive congestion pricing", a spokesperson said. Uber said the Council's legislation would make rides more expensive and less reliable.
Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said the pause on new vehicle licenses 'will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion'.
However, the Independent Drivers Guild, which includes Lyft and Uber drivers, celebrated the passage of the new bills, highlighting the new minimum wage for drivers.
"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.
Yellow taxi drivers have been pushing for this legislation because they say the rapid growth of ride-hailing services is destroying their industry.
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.
In Europe, transportation authorities in London cracked down on Uber's services last fall, withdrawing its license to operate in the city, which is Uber's largest European market, according to The New York Times.
Supporters of ride-hailing services say they are needed, especially outside of Manhattan, where it can be hard to hail a yellow cab.
Most drivers in NY work full time and are often immigrants without higher education.
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