Photo Courtesy of Uber
The City Council has proposed a cap on for-hire vehicles such as Uber.
By Michael V. Cusenza
With the City Council poised to vote on Wednesday afternoon on a cap for app-based ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) noted that many of his South Queens constituents oppose the measure.
“In the past 2 days alone I have received more than 100 emails and phones calls to my district office against the @NYCCouncil proposed cap on ride sharing services,” Ulrich tweeted last Thursday. “I support the 250,000 New Yorkers who rely on @Uber @lyft @ridewithvia etc. to get around town.”
Up for debate is a “For-Hire Vehicle Regulation Package” boasting five bills. Introduction 634-B would waive the license fee for taxis and for-hire vehicles if the vehicles being licensed are wheelchair accessible. The current taxi license fee is $550 and the current for-hire vehicle license fee is $275.
Introduction 838-C would add a new license for high volume for-hire transportation services serving more than 10,000 trips a day. Given the high amount of trips required to qualify as a high-volume for-hire service, the new license would only apply to a handful of companies at the moment. The license would be valid for a period of two years and the Taxi and Limousine Commission will set the required licensing fee.
Introduction 958-A would remove the enhanced financial penalties for unauthorized street hails in the hail exclusionary zone.
Introduction 144-B would require TLC to study and decide whether to adopt vehicle utilization standards or regulations on the number of for-hire vehicle licenses. During this one-year study, no new for-hire vehicle licenses would be issued, with an exception for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. TLC would also be able to issue licenses if it determines there is a need in a particular geographic area and there isn’t a substantial effect on congestion.
“In just a few years, the number of for-hire vehicles in our city has increased dramatically, snarling traffic and sparking a race to the bottom where all drivers are struggling to make more than poverty wages. An average of 2,000 additional vehicles hit the streets every month while drivers already spend nearly half their time with empty seats. Doing nothing or endlessly waiting for others to act is not a feasible option,” said Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), the measure’s sponsor. “This bill is a measured response that empowers the TLC to study the issue during the temporary pause on issuance of new FHV licenses.”
And Introduction 890-B would require TLC to set minimum payments to for-hire vehicle drivers for trips dispatched by high volume for-hire services. TLC would also be required to study payments for other for-hire vehicle trips and would be authorized to set payments for those trips as well as set minimum rates of fare.