New York City Council votes to limit number of Uber, Lyft vehicles

Enlarge  A Lyft ride-hailing vehicle moves through traffic in Manhattan

Those wage concerns aren't limited to taxi drivers, though - in fact, the New York Times reports that almost 40 percent of the city's ride-hailing drivers qualify for Medicaid because their take-home wages are that low.

The New York City Council on Wednesday agreed to cap the number of licenses for ride-hailing services such as Uber Technologies Inc for one year, dealing a blow to the companies that have relied on the largest US metro area for a major source of their revenue. 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 United States city.

Supporters of the cap bill say it will protect the financial stability of drivers already in the city as well as taxi drivers and reduce road congestion.

For generations, taxi drivers in NY were protected by rules restricting competition. But the lawmaker still thought the 12-month moratorium on new Taxi and Limousine Commission-licensed cars working for "high-volume for-hire services" would cruise through. Mayor Bill de Blasio released the following statement, saying he is prepared to sign the bill into law: "Our city is directly confronting a crisis that is driving working New Yorkers into poverty and our streets into gridlock". The same companies are now pushing back on the new proposals, including telling users through social media and on their apps that the legislation could make rides more scarce and more expensive.

"We are pausing the issuance of new licenses in an industry that has been allowed to proliferate without any appropriate check or regulation", Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker, told the New York Times before the vote.

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The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an 18,000-member union representing the city's taxi drivers, hailed the council's vote as a victory. "The unchecked growth of app-based for-hire vehicle companies has demanded action - and now we have it", he said after the vote.

Licenses for new ride-hailing vehicles in the city are about to get scarce.

'Uber as you know it is going to be Uber as you know it, ' Cumbo said.

The relative lack of resistance-Uber and Lyft have spent a fraction of the amount on lobbying this year as they did three years ago and have not run attack ads on politicians who have received money from yellow-cab medallion holders-may owe to the council's decision to package the cap with other bills that the firms support. Which, as Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) put it, "is like putting a cap on Netflix subscriptions because Blockbusters are closing".

The New York City Council originally mulled a similar ban in 2015, but it stepped away from the issue before any legislation was approved.

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