Via joiseyshowaa on Flickr
The New York City Council approved on Wednesday a package of legislation to regulate for-hire vehicles, like Uber and Lyft, making New York the first major city to cap new licenses. The legislation will stop issuing licenses to for-hire vehicles for one year, as the city studies the growing industry. And a minimum wage, which could start at $17.22 an hour, will be established for app-based drivers, which no city has done before.
The legislation was proposed as a way to address the city’s congestion problem, as well as increase low wages for drivers. Plus, the price of a taxi medallion has dropped from more than $1 million to under $200,000, which can be linked to the rise of services like Uber. And after multiple licensed taxi drivers took their own lives in the last six months, the need for officials to regulate the industry became more urgent.
The city first attempted to regulate services like Uber in 2015, when Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a cap. But a massive public campaign from Uber killed the measure. In three years, the number of for-hire vehicles increased from 63,000 to 100,000, according to the city.
Uber has said the legislation will hurt communities of color who have faced ride rejection from yellow taxis, as well as those who live outside of Manhattan. Civil rights groups, like the N.A.A.C.P and the National Urban League, spoke out against the cap.
“Some yellow cabs won’t even go uptown or to parts of Brooklyn,” Rev. Al Sharpton told the New York Times. “If you are downtown they won’t stop.”
“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,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said in a statement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he planned to sign the bills into law, which would take effect immediately. “More than 100,000 workers and their families will see an immediate benefit from this legislation,” the mayor said in a statement. “And this action will stop the influx of cars contributing to the congestion grinding our streets to a halt.”
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