NYC enacts new round of tough regulations on Uber and Lyft in effort to reduce street congestion in Manhattan
by Clayton Guse
New York Daily New
New York City is officially moving forward with some of the world’s toughest regulations on Uber and Lyft.
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on Wednesday voted to approve the new restrictions, which will extend the cap on new licenses issued to for-hire vehicles and force app-based companies to limit the amount of time their drivers spend in the busiest parts of Manhattan without a passenger.
The TLC’s seven commissioners unanimously approved the rules.
“Cities require fast and reliable ways to keep moving and public transit is not always close at hand,” acting TLC Commissioner Bill Heinzen said before Wednesday’s vote. “But transporting passengers is a privilege. The app companies do not have an inalienable right to operate without intelligent regulations.”
Heinzen said the regulations will help reduce street congestion in Manhattan. A 2017 study by transportation analyst Bruce Schaller found that traffic was moving 12 percent slower in the borough thanks to the e-hail apps.
Come February, app-based cars will be required to have a passenger in tow at least 64 percent of the time they spend in Manhattan below 96th St. Next August, they’ll be required to have a fare at least 69 percent of the time they spend in the zone.
The TLC will levy heavy fines against companies whose cars violate that “cruising cap.” The city may also suspend the Silicon Valley behemoths from operating in the Big Apple if they don’t play by the new rules.
Uber, Lyft and their competitors have been banned from putting new cars on the road since last August. That cap will remain in effect for at least another year, but the companies are still allowed to roll out new cars if they are fully electric or wheelchair-accessible.
“This cap is definitely, definitely necessary,” said Bigu Hader, who drives for Uber, Lyft and Juno. “Definitely we make more money. It’s getting better since the cap has been in effect.”
But some app-based drivers represented by the Independent Drivers Guild union raised concerns over the new rules, arguing that the cap on new licenses forces many drivers to rent cars in order to work.
“I don’t want to rent all the time, I want to be able to own,” said Uber and Lyft driver Tina Raveneau. “It’s a medallion system starting again.”
After the regulations were approved, Raveneau and other IDG drivers issued a notice calling on the City Council to hold an emergency hearing to consider reversing the rules.
Uber and Lyft both issued statements arguing that the city’s rules will hurt drivers.
Lyft spokeswoman Campbell Matthews asserted that the rules were “rushed through” despite “strong opposition” from members of the City Council. Last week 10 Council members sent a letter to the TLC urging them to delay the vote on the regulations.
The TLC’s decision came two days after Uber and Lyft published a joint study that found their companies are responsible for a substantial increase in traffic congestion in six other major cities across the
Heinzen said that New York’s regulations could serve as a model for other cities looking to take their streets back from the giant corporations.
“Although New York City is the first to act, our experience is not unique,” said Heinzen. “Every major city in the country has experienced the disruption caused by app-based vehicles.”