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Congestion surcharges on taxis and other for-hire vehicles in Manhattan will begin soon after a judge lifted a temporary restriction of the fees on Thursday, the New York Times reports. The new fees were supposed to start on January 1st but a coalition of taxi drivers filed a last-minute lawsuit against the “suicide surcharge,” fearing that the new policy will drive away customers and deal another significant blow to the ailing industry. The proposed fee of $2.50 for yellow taxis and $2.75 for other for-hire vehicles will bring the minimum taxi fare up to $5.80 while the minimum cost for an Uber, which already has an $8 base fare in Manhattan, will see an increase to $10.75.
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Roughly 80,000 for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City are expected to get a pay raise next year. The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on Tuesday voted to secure a minimum wage for drivers with ride-hailing companies, including Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno, making New York the first city in the world to do so. Going into effect in 30 days, the new rule mandates a minimum wage of $17.22 per hour, after expenses. That hourly rate is equivalent to the city’s employee minimum wage of $15 per hour, which will be set at the end of this year.
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Under the state’s new congestion pricing measure, starting in January it will cost $5.80 to get into a yellow cab in the most congested sections of Manhattan. Approved by state lawmakers earlier this year, the surcharge on for-hire vehicles affects all rides between Lower Manhattan and 96th Street during the busiest times of the day. But drivers of yellow cabs worry the fee will affect them more than app-based ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which can mask the surcharge by tweaking trip costs (h/t WSJ).
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Good news for outer borough commuters: Starting today, yellow taxi ride fares into Manhattan during the morning and evening rush hours will be 50 percent off for those using Waave. The permanent discount is available from 6am to 10am and from 5pm to 8pm daily. As 6sqft previously reported, Waave — an app approved by the Taxi & Limousine Commission — launched citywide in September with the aim of providing New Yorkers the convenient features of popular ride-hail apps, including an upfront fare, surge-free pricing and an estimated time of arrival.
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Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills to limit for-hire vehicles, like Uber and Lyft, by placing a one-year cap on new licenses. And this week the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) approved a pilot program for a new ride-hailing app for yellow taxis, according to Curbed NY. Calling itself the “next generation taxi app,” Waave promises to give New Yorkers upfront fares, surge-free pricing and estimated time of arrival before the car arrives, all features currently offered by Uber.
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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.
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As New York City prepares to become the first major city in the country to cap the number of vehicles driving for services like Uber, racial justice organizations are rallying against the legislation, calling it a civil rights issue. Groups like the National Urban League and the N.A.A.C.P say the City Council’s plan to place a freeze on the amount of for-hire vehicle licenses for one year hurts minority New Yorkers who have trouble hailing taxis on the street. “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.”
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