Uber, Lyft, and moving forward responsibly

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Today the NYC Council voted on a package of bills to bring much needed regulation the ride-hailing for-hire vehicle industry. This historic legislation makes New York City the first major U.S. city to set a limit on ride-sharing vehicles.

As the sponsor of Intro. 144-B, I have met with constituents, drivers, and riders, and heard from advocates across the industry — and I am proud of the progress we are making for our city. Because of the continued lack of regulation, the number of licensed vehicles in NYC has almost doubled in the last few years, from 74,000 in 2014 to over 130,000 today. The market is oversaturated and drivers are struggling to make ends meet.

The bills approved by the Council today accomplish three goals:

First, they address the need to make pay more equitable for all drivers by pressing the pause button on the number of licensed for-hire vehicles (FHVs) on the road. By setting a one year cap on new vehicles, we will maintain our current level and prevent greater saturation of the market. The data is clear: Because of the industry’s growth, for-hire vehicles are empty approximately 40% of the time, forcing drivers to drive around for longer and earn less income.

Second, this legislation helps us accomplish our public policy goals around transportation accessibility and congestion. Over 2,000 vehicles are added to the road every month, while the rate of traffic in Manhattan slowed by more than 17% in 2016 alone. This is simply not sustainable. The bill does, however, include an exemption for accessible vehicles, incentivizing companies to speed up their commitment to making vehicle transportation more accessible to disabled riders across New York City. According to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), only 0.5% of for-hire vehicles are wheelchair accessible — we have a long way to go.

Lastly, Intro. 144 starts us on a path to a responsible and sustainable long-term solution for both drivers and riders alike. During the one year pause, the TLC will work with the Department of Transportation to study vehicle utilization rates, access to services in different geographic areas of the city, driver income, and traffic congestion, so that we can enact an adaptive forward-thinking regulatory system that balances the need for rider access with our goals of maintaining a living wage and fair transit system.

We are long overdue for regulation of the for-hire vehicle industry; today’s vote allows us to examine how best to ensure equitable pay for all drivers, tackle ever-worsening congestion, and keep up with the changing landscape so that riders throughout the city have access to transportation options. This is about fairness.

Thank you for your calls, emails, and questions — I look forward to continuing to work with each of you to ensure the implementation of these bills is thoughtful and transparent and best serves the interests of District 33.