The New York City Council pumped the brakes on Uber and Lyft car services on Wednesday. The council passed a number of bills to temporarily halt new licenses of app-based drivers, including a one-year cap on the number of Uber and Lyft drivers on the streets.
The legislation is the city’s most aggressive attempt to regulate Uber since their introduction in 2011. The regulation is an effort to decrease the influx of transportation on the city’s streets.
Mayor Bill De Blasio, who had tried passing a similar regulation back in 2015, says this is an improvement for the city’s poverty and street systems.
“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,” De Blasio said.
De Blasio also believes the regulation will directly benefit taxi drivers and their families.
“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.”
Supporters of the decision say the passage will benefit ride-hailing drivers, who have faced a decrease in services since the takeover of Uber and Lyft. Many attributed the recent suicides of taxi drivers to the financial hardships faced as a result. Other advocates for the cap say the regulation will help for-hire drivers avoid over-saturation in the market.
However, opponents of the regulation, including Uber spokesperson Danielle Filson, feel that the passage is a setback for people who rely heavily on transportation services, arguing that the city already faces numerous breakdowns and delays of other traditional services.
“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,” Filson said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, “[Uber] will do whatever it takes to keep up with growing demand.”
Another issue opponents have with the regulation is the discrimination many black and Hispanic riders face with taxi drivers. Traditional taxicabs are known for refusing to stop for people of color.
Reverend Al Sharpton took to Twitter to express this view on the regulation:
They’re talking about putting a cap on Uber, do you know how difficult it is for black people to get a yellow cab in New York City? This isn’t about UBER it’s about US-AH! We need to stand up for US! #saturdayactionrally pic.twitter.com/lOgRjjLu6a
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) July 28, 2018
The Black Lives Matter Movement also spoke out against the regulation, predicting a negative political impact if the law took place. DeRay Mckesson, an activist for the movement, also took to Twitter to express the concern:
4. It will be interesting to see what happens politically if, as many predict will happen, that ride-sharing cars decrease and users are forced to take yellow cabs — the same yellow cabs that refuse to pick up black/brown people. Will the city council members survive that?
— deray (@deray) August 8, 2018
The only exception to the cap regulation, according to the city council, is if the Taxi and Limousine Commission(TLC) decides there is a necessity in a certain geographical area and there is no negative effect on traffic congestion. Car service vehicles that are handicap-accessible are also exempt from the regulation.
Mayor De Blasio intends to sign the legislation into law.