New Rules Take Us Backwards

How new rules could hurt the future of transportation in New York City — and what should be done instead

You may have seen news about the proposed new rules for ridesharing in New York City. We want to help you understand these rules and how they might affect the future of transportation in America’s largest city.

As drafted, the rules will result in several bad outcomes for New Yorkers:

  • At least 25 percent fewer Lyft drivers on the road because of a cut
  • Wait times and prices spike for passengers — especially outside of Manhattan
  • Possible restrictions on where Lyft can operate in the city

Over the last four years, Lyft and other ridesharing services have delivered reliable, convenient, and affordable rides to New Yorkers who were historically underserved by taxis and other transportation options. In fact, 78 percent of Lyft trips either start or end outside of Manhattan’s Central Business District, and 64 percent of rides take place during off-peak hours when other options are limited.

For communities of color, who, before the arrival of ridesharing, were denied equal transportation options, the impact will be felt even more strongly. It will return us to the days when African-American and Latino New Yorkers had to worry whether they would get a ride every time they raised their hand to hail a cab. It wasn’t too long ago that I was one of these New Yorkers. As an African-American man who was born and spent the majority of my adult life in New York City, I lost count of all the times an “on duty” light happened to get turned off as a cab approached me, but I vividly remember the anger and frustration that came with every cab that passed me by. The current City Council proposals would return us to those ugly days.

Listen to Joe discuss the proposed rules on Pod Save the People with DeRay Mckesson. Joe’s segment begins at 37 minutes.

What’s more, this cut would come at the worst possible time with the largest transit shutdown the city has seen in decades as the L train closes for much-needed repairs. The effects of a cut — less service, increased wait times, higher fares — would hurt bottom lines in the business corridors of North Brooklyn and effectively strand commuters in neighborhoods like Brownsville, Canarsie and East New York who seek to move throughout the borough and into Manhattan.

A cut also risks jeopardizing a new fee on rideshare trips set to take effect in January that will raise $400 million annually for improvements on our aging subways. These funds will help make public transit an increasingly more reliable option. In fact, analysis from Tri-State Transportation Campaign suggests that the proposed rules, “depress anticipated revenues the MTA would receive.”

It’s for these reasons we oppose the proposed rules, but understand they are the result of well intentioned efforts to ensure ridesharing benefits everyone. We share that goal and support the following to make it happen:

  • A requirement that all rideshare drivers earn at minimum a livable wage
  • A hardship fund to support taxi drivers that is funded by ridesharing companies
  • Comprehensive congestion pricing to reduce congestion and fund transit

Transportation is much more than just a means of getting from point A to B. It’s a critical source of economic and social mobility and has tremendous bearing on quality of life. That’s why we’re committed to encouraging more people to choose transit, bikes and shared rides — and ensuring everyone, in every neighborhood, has access to Lyft.

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Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) integration on the new Lyft app will offer the best real-time routes for the shortest and smoothest trip, even if that trip doesn’t happen in a Lyft.

We came here four years ago to bring the world’s best transportation to the 8.5 million people who call New York City home. My own experience of being systematically denied reliable transit options is one of the primary reasons that I’m so passionate about ridesharing in general and Lyft in particular. Together with City leaders, we can pass legislation that serves more New Yorkers and supports the best possible transportation system. Ask City Council to oppose rules that cut and restrict Lyft and find a better solution ›

On Tuesday, Lyft and other ridesharing companies presented a proposal to City Council for a $100m fund to support individual taxi medallion owners who are struggling financially. The fund would be paid for by the companies and support for the taxi drivers would begin right away. Every struggling driver who owns a medallion would receive, at minimum, tens of thousands of dollars. But City Council turned down the $100 million fund and appears set on cutting rideshare drivers instead of providing immediate assistance to taxi drivers.

Written by

Vice President of Public Policy, Lyft

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