NEW YORK - New York City has become the first city in the country to limit the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles on the road - at least temporarily.
By a 39-6 vote, the City Council passed a bill Wednesday that caps the number of for-hire vehicle licenses for a year.
What does the bill do?
The freeze that the City Council passed places a one-year moratorium on new licenses for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.
This will not decrease the number of those cars currently on the street. What the bill means is that no new vehicles can be added for a year while the city studies their impact.
The exceptions include applications already submitted, wheelchair-accessible vehicles, cars in the area that would not contribute to congestion, and license renewals.
Who supports it?
Yellow taxi drivers and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance have been pushing for this legislation because they say the expansion of ride-hailing services has devastated their industry. They say six drivers have taken their own lives since November.
"No one is going to be destroyed by what happened today," Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said after the vote. "But had the City Council failed to act, hundreds of thousands of workers' lives would have been destroyed."
Others say the flood of these cars has severely worsened congestion, especially in Manhattan. There are currently more than 100,000 ride-hailing app vehicles from companies like Uber and Lyft on city streets. That's up from about 63,000 in 2015.
According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, those app-based vehicles made 17 million trips in February 2018, up from 6 million in February 2016. Meanwhile, medallion-owning taxi drivers made 8.5 million trips in February 2018, down from 11 million two years earlier.
Who is against it?
Supporters of ride-hailing services say they are needed, especially outside of Manhattan, where it can be difficult to hail a yellow cab.
Uber and Lyft also claim the cap will cause prices to rise.
In a statement issued after the vote, Uber said, in part, "The City's 12-month pause on new vehicle licenses will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion."
Minorities also praise the services because they say yellow cab drivers often refuse to pick them up or drive to their neighborhoods.
"And you know that yellow don't pick up black. You know yellow don't pick up brown," Kirsten John Foy of the National Action Network said during a rally opposing the cap on Tuesday.
Lyft Vice President of Public Policy Joseph Okpaku also mentioned this in a statement issued after the cap was passed.
"These sweeping cuts to transportation will bring New Yorkers back to an era of struggling to get a ride, particularly for communities of color and in the outer boroughs," Okpaku's statement reads. "We will never stop working to ensure New Yorkers have access to reliable and affordable transportation in every borough."
What happens next?
During the freeze, the Taxi and Limousine Commission and Department of Transportation will study driver income, traffic congestion, efficient use of vehicles and service impact in different areas.