New York City may restrict the number of Uber and Lyft cars allowed to operate in the city

shutterstock/MikeDottaUber car service on the streets of New York
  • New York City officials announced a plan that if approved would cap the number of ride-sharing cars from companies like Uber and Lyft that can operate in the city.
  • The City Council’s proposed legislation comes on the heels of increased traffic congestion and multiple suicides by taxi and black-car drivers in recent months.
  • Uber opposes the proposal, and recently won back its licence to operate in London.

New York City officials announced on Thursday a plan that if approved would place a cap on the number of vehicles ride-share services like Uber and Lyft can operate in the city.

Led by City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, law-makers are now considering legislation that would place a hold on all new ride-share service vehicles, exempting those that are handicap accessible. The legislation also addresses the problem of congestion, as the bills propose setting limits for how long a ride-sharing vehicle can drive around empty while searching for passengers.

“This is the plan that we came up with and in my heart I believe it’s the best path forward,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement to the New York Times. “Our goal has always been to protect drivers, bring fairness to the industry and reduce congestion. That’s what this proposal does, and it represents the broad outlines of what we think our next steps should be as a city to help the industry.”

The proposed legislation comes on the heels of multiple suicides by New York City livery drivers, who are believed to have been brought to despair from a lack of business and the crushing debt created by an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars into their cars and taxi-cabs. Ride-sharing vehicles in New York have exploded in numbers, from 47,000 in 2013 to about 103,000 today, and data from last year showed Uber and Lyft cars outnumbered cabs in New York City 4 to 1.

Congestion is another issue motivating lawmakers for the new legislation. The exponential growth of Uber and Lyft has created a physical problem of more cars on the road, increasing congestion in America’s biggest city. While Governor Andrew Cuomo’s congestion pricing plan has stalled, this new legislation addresses the problem by capping the number of cars and setting new standards on driving unoccupied vehicles.

Uber was not pleased with the city’s proposal.

“The City Council’s Uber cap will leave New Yorkers stranded while doing nothing to prevent congestion, fix the subways, and help struggling taxi medallion owners,” said Uber spokesperson Danielle Filson in a statement to Business Insider. “The Council’s cap will hurt riders outside Manhattan who have come to rely on Uber because their communities have long been ignored by yellow taxis and do not have reliable access to public transit.”

Uber was previously banned in London, but recently won back its licence to operate in the city after months of litigation.

Additional legislative proposals being considered by the City Council includes placing a mandatory minimum wage for ride-share drivers, who are reported to earn wages as low as $US8.55 per hour before taxes.

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