City Council Making Too Many Wrong Mistakes

As Yogi Berra would say, “It is Deja’ Vu all over again.”

At every turn, the New York City Council sides with the taxi cartels to the detriment of citizens outside of the heart of midtown Manhattan. This week was no different as the City Council voted to place a moratorium on new vehicle licenses for ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.

This comes on the heels of July actions that imposed new fees for ridesharing customers including a new “pick-up fee.” In addition, the City Council requires that ridesharing drivers are paid a minimum of $17/hour — even when they’re not driving.

They want to return to a time when smart phones and app-based economy were pipe dreams, taxis were impossible to find, and taxi medallions cost jobseekers over a million dollars.

What do all these policies have in common? They satisfy the demands of New York’s taxi and limousine companies, whose ultimate wish is to turn back to a time when smart phones and app-based economy were pipe dreams, taxis were impossible to find, and taxi medallions cost jobseekers over a million dollars.

Couched as wanting to evaluate ways of reducing traffic congestion, the artificial cap on ridesharing licenses is really about an attempt to preserve the status quo — one that millions of New Yorkers and tourists have deemed outdated. Did congestion on the streets of New York just become in an issue this year?

We have seen ridesharing vehicles in New York City triple in the last three years from 25,000 vehicles to more than 80,000 for one reason — consumers found a better solution than the cramped and dirty yellow cab. Market forces are driving New Yorkers away from taxis and flooding ridesharing drivers into the outer boroughs to serve citizens who were traditionally under-served by taxis.

Ridesharing works for riders and drivers. Many ridesharing drivers have other jobs or obligations, and only drive occasionally to supplement their income. Sometimes they turn on the app while at their desk or a coffee shop. While awaiting a ride request, they can work on a report, answer calls, study for school, or just relax.

Ridesharing gives an income boost to the parent who drives for Lyft while her children are at school or the young woman who just finished a late shift in Hell’s Kitchen and looking for a safe way to get home.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the City Council and Taxi Commission want rules to protect their medallion system from competition.

Uber and Lyft are used by drivers and consumers alike because it improves their quality of life. We can’t let the Commission get away with this latest attempt to run ridesharing off the streets of New York.

New Yorkers need their voices to be heard because the City Council can be moved to change. This fight ‘ain’t over till its’ over.’