City Council Overwhelmingly Caps Uber, Lyft

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The city council today overwhelming passed measures regulating and capping ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft.

City Councilman Stephen Levin
City Council Member Inez Barron
City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr

Measure Intro. 144, which City Council Member Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn, Boerum Hill) sponsored, passed 39-6.

Levin’s bill would stop the Taxi and Limousine Commission from issuing new for-hire vehicle licenses for one year, with an exception for wheelchair accessible vehicles, while it studies whether to impose additional regulations on the industry.

Among the no votes included City Council Members Inez Barron (D-East New York) and Robert Cornegy Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights) and Queens City Council Member Eric Ulrich (R-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach, Woodhaven).

Among the supporters of the measure were Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan).

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson

“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. More than 100,000 workers and their families will see an immediate benefit from this legislation. And this action will stop the influx of cars contributing to the congestion grinding our streets to a halt. I want to thank Speaker Johnson and Council Member Levin for their leadership on this issue, and the entire Council for standing up for working people. I look forward to signing these bills into law,” said de Blasio.

“Today the City Council brings some much needed regulatory framework to an industry experiencing significant upheaval. Our goals were to craft a legislative solution that would increase fairness, help drivers, and fight congestion, and I believe this package of bills takes major steps forward on all of those fronts. After months of working with Council Members and stakeholders from all sides, I am proud of the bills being put forth in the Council, as well as the thought and deliberation that was demonstrated throughout the process,” said Johnson.

The measure did receive some pushback, particularly from predominately black neighborhoods and outer borough areas where the e-cabs are popular. This includes the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), central Brooklyn’s most powerful Democratic clubs.

VIDA President Henry Butler

“VIDA is firmly opposed to any cap on ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft in New York City. For decades, taxi cabs have discriminated against communities of color with little to no consequence to the TLC. This practice affects our seniors, our families and our small businesses, and we are saying enough is enough. Services like Uber and Lyft have helped to create earning opportunities for people of color, and with the unreliability of public transit, ridesharing services have become a reliable form of transportation that service ALL New Yorkers, not just the privileged.  It seems that our elected officials are turning their backs on the very communities that have supported them. Now it’s their turn to return the favor,” the club said in a statement.

“We urge the city officials, including the BLA (Black, Latino, Asian) and Progressive caucuses in City Council, to stand up for our communities and speak out against this bill that will harm their constituents’. This is no longer about solving congestion in midtown Manhattan, this is about ensuring that communities of color in Brooklyn and throughout the city get equal access to safe and reliable transportation options so that they can continue to thrive. We urge our public officials to do what is right for the communities they were elected to serve by rejecting this misguided and discriminatory cap.”

Uber Spokesperson Danielle Filson said 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.

“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. In the meantime, Uber will do whatever it takes to keep up with growing demand and we will not stop working with city and state leaders, including Speaker Johnson, to pass real solutions like comprehensive congestion pricing,” Filson said.

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