The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission voted Wednesday to extend its cap on the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles permitted to operate within the city. The commission also amended its rules aimed at limiting the amount of time drivers can cruise without passengers in Manhattan below 96th Street.
Last year, the New York City Council voted to halt the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses for 12 months. Under the cap, Uber and Lyft could still be granted licenses for wheelchair-accessible vehicles — which both companies sorely lack — but would be prevented from adding new ride-hail vehicles for one year. Today’s vote extends that cap for another 12 months, while also cutting deadheading — or the amount of time drivers spend without passengers in the car — for both companies from 41 percent to 31 percent.
The regulations come on top of new minimum wage rules enacted in February, along with a congestion charge for all for-hire vehicles and yellow taxis.
The vote by the TLC wasn’t a surprise; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said two months ago he wanted the cap extended for another year to prevent app companies from “taking advantage of hardworking drivers, choking our streets with congestion, and driving workers into poverty.”
As such, Uber and Lyft tried to downplay its significance while also signaling their disappointment with how the government in America’s biggest city treats them. “The TLC continually attempts to shrink New Yorkers’ access to affordable and reliable transportation,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “There is no reason these rules needed to be rushed through on such an accelerated time frame, especially given strong opposition from members of City Council and communities across New York. We will never stop working to find better solutions for riders and drivers.”
An Uber spokesperson said, “We worry that the Mayor’s rules will hurt drivers’ ability to earn a living and hope that we can work with stakeholders to limit the consequences for riders and drivers.”
Driver groups are split on the decision. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance hailed the vote as a win, while the Independent Drivers Guild said it was “disappointing.”
Uber stopped onboarding new drivers in New York City on April 1st, followed soon after by Lyft. In January, Lyft sued the city to block the new wage rules, arguing that they would create an uneven playing field and would ultimately mean their own drivers would be paid less. (That case was ultimately tossed.) Three weeks later, Uber sued the city over the cap on new ride-hail drivers.
Source: New York City extends its cap on new Uber and Lyft vehicles
By Andrew J. Hawkins
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