Last week, the New York City Council passed multiple bills that will temporarily pause the granting of new licenses for any Uber or Lyft cars. The pause will last for one year, while the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) spends that time studying the effects of ridesharing companies on the current industry. Mayor Bill DeBlasio is expected to sign the legislation in the coming days, making it effective immediately.
Companies like Uber now have to work within the limitations set by these new laws.
“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,” said Uber spokesperson Danielle Filson.
“In the meantime, Uber will do whatever it takes to keep up with growing demand and we will not stop working with the city and state leaders, including Speaker Johnson, to pass real solutions like comprehensive congestion pricing.”
Because Uber is restricted to its existing vehicles, the company is committed to finding innovative ways to grow moving forward.
A spokesperson told Business Insider that Uber is “ready to use creative measures to get around the language of the bills.” The spokesperson noted the important distinction that the pause is on the number of new vehicles -- not a limit on the number of new drivers. It is this fine line that has sparked Uber to think about reaching out to drivers who spend two or three days a week off the app to see if they’d allow new drivers to use their already-registered vehicles.
The company has estimated roughly 120,000 industry drivers in the city, and there are at least 35,000 existing licensed vehicles in the system that aren’t being utilized. Uber is also planning to pitch employment opportunities to existing black car and yellow taxi drivers in NYC.
Uber, however, is not planning on fighting one measure of the new bill -- the new minimum pay-rate for drivers. An Uber spokesperson reported that the company is “supportive” of a minimum wage for its drivers.
When the news of the cap was revealed, it left New Yorkers divided.
“The Uber business model is flood the market with as many cars and drivers as possible, gain more market share, and to hell with what happens to those drivers or anybody else involved,” said Mayor DeBlasio. “And in the end what that has created is the kind of race to the bottom that has literally driven down wages below minimum wage level for a lot of Uber drivers and even for other drivers.”
The city’s taxi drivers -- part of the New York Taxi Worker Association -- had a similar reaction.
“Our activism created the momentum to regulate app-dispatch companies for the very first time,” the group said. “What happened didn’t just set a precedent for New York City, it set a precedent for the entire world as app companies like Uber and Lyft uses technological innovation to return us to a time of sweated labor, destroying lives and livelihoods across the planet.”
However, many New Yorkers are less than pleased with the cap. Millennials -- who make up a large portion of the rideshare market -- took to social media to vent their frustrations. African Americans in the city particularly didn’t see the decision as a good move. The demographic has long complained that taxi drivers are less likely to stop for them than for a white passenger.
“In NYC’s legislation capping the number of Uber and Lyft cars on the road, are there any new penalties or enforcement mechanisms for when yellow cabs refuse to pick up Black people?” one user asked in a tweet.
The city is also being criticized for putting limitations on one of the few reliable transportation options for New Yorkers.