The New York City Council is contemplating placing a cap on the number of vehicles permitted on the road that drive for Uber, Lyft and any other ride-hailing companies. The vote is expected to take place on August 8th.
There have been several complaints against the growing presence of Ubers and other similar companies’ cars in New York. Some of the main issues include the overcrowding of the streets with these vehicles as well as the fact that these services are putting classic yellow taxis out of business.
There are 13,587 licensed medallions that are required in order to operate a yellow taxi in New York City. In 2013 the value of one of these medallions went as high as $1.3 million. Now, one is worth about $160,000. This past June there was even a bankruptcy auction of 139 medallions where they were sold at a fraction of their original price.
Andrew Murstein, President of the Medallian Financial Corporation, feels that this regulation on ehailing companies is long overdue. “It’s about time they capped Uber, Lyft and other ehail companies. They have caused tremendous congestion in NYC,” he said. “The amount of taxis have been capped for years. Bit by bit measures are being created to level the playing field between taxi medallions and ehail companies. All of this should have been done years ago, but better late than never.”
It is no secret that New York has a congestion problem when it comes to traffic and studies show that Uber and companies like it have added to this problem. The growing popularity of these transportation services have increased the amount of driving on city streets by 160%. The argument for the cap on Uber and Lyft vehicles is that it will bring this percentage down.
There are also many arguments for these ehailing companies and against the cap. Many people have complained that this is a civil rights issue as well. Many members of the black and Latino communities in New York, especially people who live in outer boroughs have felt slighted by, or have been unable to access yellow cabs. Uber was their only option to get a ride home.
“Some yellow cabs won’t even go uptown or to parts of Brooklyn,” Reverend Al Sharpton said in an interview on the topic. “If you are downtown they won’t stop.”
Other concerns about this cap include the possibility of Uber pricing going up due to the proposed lower number of vehicles. These companies also worry that other cities will look at this cap on New York City Ubers and ride-hailing companies and follow the same model, putting these businesses in trouble everywhere.
A spokesperson for Uber, Josh Gold, stated why the cap would be harmful to New York City and its residents. “Not only will the cap leave New Yorkers stranded while doing nothing to prevent congestion,” he said. “It’ll hurt riders who have come to rely on Uber because their communities have long been ignored by yellow taxis and do not have reliable access to public transit.”