On Wednesday, the New York City Council voted in favor of capping new Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing cars on the streets, as well as several other measures that will help financially burdened taxi drivers.
The cap means that no new Uber and Lyft cars can hit the streets for one year while the city does a study of the effects of ride-hail apps like Uber and Lyft. (The cap has two exceptions: Wheelchair-accessible cars can be added, and if the city determines at any point that certain neighborhoods are being underserved, the companies can add more cars.) The city council also voted to set a minimum pay rate for drivers.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents both yellow cab drivers as well as Uber and Lyft drivers, was in favor of the cap. In the past few years, the value of taxi medallions — the license drivers can own, lease, or share to run a yellow taxi — has plummeted. Once considered a lifetime investment worth as much as $1 million in 2013, the taxi medallion fell in value to under $200,000 this year.
The impact of these new apps on the local transportation economy has recently come under heightened scrutiny. Since November, there have been six suicides by taxi drivers, including one who shot himself in front of City Hall after describing in a Facebook post the economic hardships drivers are facing due to more cars on the streets.
“These sweeping cuts to transportation will bring New Yorkers back to an era of struggling to get a ride, particularly for communities of color and in the outer boroughs,” said Lyft VP of Public Policy Joseph Okpaku.