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New York City Council Votes to Cap Ride-Hailing Vehicles

Majority Carries The Vote

A majority of the New York City Council on Wednesday reportedly voted to put a limit on the total number of vehicles available for transportation and hire delivery in New York. The decision obviously came as a not-so-pleasant one for tech businesses such as Lyft and Uber. The voting was primarily to put on hold the issuing of for-hire vehicle licenses for 12 months. The council will reportedly study the industry during this period.

It is worthy to mention that the limit does not mean Lyft and Uber would not be issued licenses for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible. It would only be stopped from allowing more new ride-hailing cars for a year.  The cap will also not stop the Taxi and Limousine Commission from issuing licenses in specific neighborhoods that do not have enough ride-hailing vehicles. One other proposed bill seeks to create a $15 minimum wage for the ride-hailing drivers. Both bills have proceeded to  Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the Mayor has pitched his support for the cap.

The cap will also not stop the Taxi and Limousine Commission from issuing licenses in specific neighborhoods that do not have enough ride-hailing vehicles.

Lyft and Uber in defending their position argued that the effect of the cap would cause New Yorkers to wait more extended periods to get a cab. They also mentioned it would lead to reduced reliability of services offered in the city. However, in countering their argument, Corey Johnson, a council speaker noted that the people of the city wouldn’t see any difference in their daily movement except for a few seconds.

New York Sets Trend

This move to temporarily halt the issuance of licenses makes New York the first city in the US to move for a freeze on the number of ride-hailing cars. New York is allegedly one of the top users of this services, and that is because several New Yorkers are opting for taxi calling service as an alternative to the city’s public transport system.

At the moment there are reportedly over 100,000 ride-hailing vehicles in the city which is four times more than the traditional taxis. Johnson while referring to a report that over one-third of the cars remained empty at a particular time stated that the vehicles increased traffic congestion.  The unfettered growth of the ride hailing cars reduced the use of traditional taxis and the taxi drivers reportedly protest the growing Uber and Lyft drivers.

This move to temporarily halt the issuance of licenses makes New York the first city in the US to move for a freeze on the number of ride-hailing cars

Impact of Ride-Hailing Vehicles

Johnson at the end of the voting stated that there was an actual human impact of the growth of Uber and Lyft cars in New York. According to Johnson, while some of the city drivers already filed for bankruptcy, some others have ended their lives as they fell deep in debt.

On the other hand, Lyft and Uber reportedly funded million dollar advert campaign and even urged its customers to indicate their support for the company. They argued that the cap would render their drivers incomeless. They also contended that it would also affect the low-income earners and minority residents who lived in the outer borough of the cities. According to them, residents of outer borough cities could not easily access the public transit means and are sometimes ignored by the regular taxi services.

In addition to the cap, there is also a second bill which would make ride-hailing companies such as Lyft and Uber with high volume to make data on charges and usage available. Failure to comply will open them to a fine of $10,000. The move for geographic restrictions as well as a $15 minimum wage for the ride-hailing drivers also received approval.

The ride-hailing companies have condemned this Council vote. According to Uber’s spokesperson, the pause on the issuance of new vehicle licenses for s year would come as a threat to the system which is one of the only reliable transport options. The spokesperson also added that it would still not reduce traffic congestion. Also Lyft’s vice president of policy, Joseph Okpaku stated that it would likely bring back the struggle that comes with getting a ride most especially for people living in outer boroughs.

However, Council members refused to budge. 39 members of council voted for the cap while only six voted against it. Johnson also denied claims levied by the companies that they were not given the audience as he noted that the companies were carried along all through the decision making process. It is envisaged that the decision could likely have broader consequences. If the cap successfully levels the playing ground for the traditional taxi drivers, reduce congestion and also increase the standard for drivers, other cities could subsequently adopt the model.


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