New York City Approves Cap On Uber Drivers, Sets Minimum Wage

Update: As previewed earlier, and expected, New York’s city council dealt a political blow to Uber and other app-based car-for-hire companies by approving a one-year industry-wide cap on new ride-hail licenses and giving the city Taxi & Limousine Commission authority to set minimum pay standards for drivers.

As Bloomberg reports, the council voted against a similar cap proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio three years ago after Uber mounted a television ad campaign and mobilized drivers and customers to oppose it. App-based licenses have since increased to more than 80,000 from 12,600 and provide 17 million rides per month, according to the city Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson said earlier that the regulations are intended to protect drivers, fairly regulate the industry and reduce congestion.

“We are not taking away any service that is currently being offered to customers,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said at a City Hall news conference. “This is about supporting and uplifting drivers.”

The year-long cap on new licenses for ride-hailing vehicles will take place while the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) studies the effects of ride-hail service in the city. The cap would not apply to new wheelchair-accessible vehicles or new vehicles serving an area demonstrating need in a way that does not increase congestion.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that "Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock. The unchecked growth of app-based for-hire vehicle companies has demanded action – and now we have it."

In response, Uber warned that the cap will hike rates, increase wait times and generally result in worse service.

"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 said in a statement. "We take the Speaker at his word that the pause is not intended to reduce service for New Yorkers and we trust that he will hold the TLC accountable, ensuring that no New Yorker is left stranded."

And there you go 'Murica: the government once again stepping in to make your life so much nicer.

How long before some enterprising politician does something about this...

Infographic: Male Uber Drivers Outearn Their Female Counterparts | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

It seems like men should be restricted from driving in more lucrative locations (areas with higher rates of crime and more drinking establishments) - some kind of affirmative action that forces women to drive more frequently (like men do)?

[NOTE - During a typical week, a male driver would earn an average of $397.68 compared to a female driver taking home $268.18 on average. When it comes to hourly earnings, however, things are far more equal with men earning $21.28 and women earning $20.04.]

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The New York City Council is voting on Wednesday on a series of measures which would significantly harm ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, after a handful of bills were formally presented to the City Council last Wednesday

The bills, supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson, are widely expected to pass - and include a one-year cap on new taxis while the city studies the booming industry. The legislation would also allow New York City to set a minimum pay rate for drivers. 

“This legislative package we believe will bring fairness to an industry experiencing an upheaval,” Speaker Corey Johnson told The Wall Street Journal. “We think it will reduce congestion and help drivers.”

In June, we noted the epidemic of New York cab driver suicides, as lifelong drivers have watched their retirements vanish as the value of a once-coveted taxi medallion has cratered, and the ultra-competitive ride-sharing services have kept driver wages low.

In the past five years, sale prices of taxi medallions, a license to pick up street hails in Manhattan, have plummeted from more than $1 million to less than $200,000. -WSJ

In May, taxi driver Yu Mein Chow, a 56-year-old immigrant living in Queens, was found dead - floating down the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. Seven years ago, Chow financed a $700,000 taxi medallion that allowed him to operate a cab throughout the city. Shortly after, he realized with the introduction of ridesharing apps that his ability to service the debt was unsustainable; only instead of declaring bankruptcy, he chose to end his life.

The ride-hailing companies argue that their businesses add value to the community. 

“City Council’s proposals would bring us back to an era of struggling to get a ride, particularly for those in communities of color and outer boroughs,” said Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin, who urged council members to delay the vote so that drivers and riders could have more time to comment.

“A 12-month pause on new for-hire vehicle licenses will leave New Yorkers stranded while doing nothing to prevent congestion, fix the subways, and help struggling taxi medallion owners,” said a spokeswoman for Uber. 

Following an unsuccessful 2015 bid by de Blasio to cap ride-hailing companies in 2015, the services have ballooned in popularity throughout the city. As the Journal notes, "At that time, there were 25,000 ride-hailing vehicles on the streets, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Today, there are more than 80,000 such vehicles. They dwarf the roughly 30,000 livery and traditional black cars, 13,587 yellow taxis and 2,300 green taxis."

Uber and Lyft have also been blamed for adding to New York's notorious road congestion. 

Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said Wednesday’s vote “sends a message of hope and solidarity to a workforce that has struggled in isolation for too long.”

Ride-hailing companies say they provide a service to people traditionally neglected by the taxi industry, such as those in the outer boroughs and people of color who are sometimes avoided by cabdrivers. They add that they also provide an alternative for commuters who are regularly let down by the city’s subway and bus systems.

Lead sponsor of the minimum wage bill, Councilman Brad Lander, appeared at a Tuesday rally in support of the legislation, saying that the package of bills "puts New York City on a path to sensible regulation of for-hire vehicles."