NYC will extend cap on Uber, for-hire vehicles

Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the move as a way of easing
congestion in Manhattan

It was nearly one year ago that New York’s City Council, with
the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio,
voted
to enact
a cap on the number of for-hire vehicle licenses
issued in the
city.

Now, with that moratorium set to expire in August, the de Blasio
administration is taking things a step further: The mayor announced
today that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will extend the
cap, and propose a second one that will limit how long drivers can
cruise through Manhattan in otherwise empty behicles.

“For too long, app companies have taken advantage of
hardworking drivers, choking our streets with congestion and
driving workers into poverty,” de Blasio said in a statement.
“That era will come to an end in New York City.”

Last year’s ruling was intended to be temporary, as the city
implemented a study of for-hire vehicles and their impact on New
York’s traffic, emissions, and more. (It also implemented a
minimum wage and fare structure for FHV drivers.) The
findings of that analysis
were released alongside today’s
announcement, and the 35-page report—prepared jointly by the TLC
and the Department of Transportation (DOT)—notes that “In
Manhattan, FHVs now make up nearly 30% of all traffic, confirming
that reductions in FHV-related traffic could meaningfully impact
overall traffic conditions.”

In the year since the cap was enacted, New York’s state
legislature also passed a
landmark congestion pricing plan
as part of the FY2020 budget;
but since that will not be implemented for at least another year,
the city views the FHV cap as essential to reducing congestion on
traffic-clogged streets.

The measures announced by de Blasio today are twofold: One will
maintain the cap that was enacted in August 2018, while the other
will put a limit on how much time drivers can spend
“cruising”—driving without passenger pick-ups—in Manhattan.
According to the city’s report, FHV drivers spend approximately
40 percent of their time doing this; the cap aims to reduce that by
10 percent. It will be in effect during peak hours—so 6 a.m. to
11 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.

“Having over 40 percent of FHVs in peak hours cruising empty
on the City’s most congested streets is simply unsustainable,”
DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “Along
with other ambitious solutions like the Better Buses plan and
congestion pricing, we look forward to working with TLC on
implementing these new common-sense rules for FHVs that will help
get our City moving again.”

But Uber and Lyft, two of the biggest ride-hailing companies to
be impacted by the city’s ruling (the others are Juno and Via),
expressed displeasure over the extension of the cap. Alix Anfang, a
spokesperson for Uber, said that extending the cap will “create
another medallion system—the same kind that bankrupted drivers
and enriched lenders.” (A
recent investigation by the New York Times
detailed the how the
current medallion system—and the indifference of city and state
leaders—has exploited and financially ruined many taxi
drivers.)

“Not only is the Mayor’s policy hurting app drivers by
forcing them to pay exorbitant fees to rent a car, but he has
proposed nothing to fix the current medallion system that only
benefits lenders and taxi insiders,” Anfang added. Earlier this
year,
Uber sued to overturn the cap
, but the case is still
pending.

“The Mayor’s announcement today is misguided and will be
damaging to riders and drivers, as further restrictions on
rideshare will result in fewer rides and lower earnings,”
Campbell Matthews, a spokesperson for Lyft, said in a statement.
“The Mayor should respect the legislation passed by the City
Council last year and allow all parties to review the report on the
impact of the cap prior to any discussions of an extension or any
new rules and fees.”

Source: FS – NYC Real Estate
NYC will extend cap on Uber, for-hire vehicles