When the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to place a temporary cap on the number of Ubers and other for-hire vehicles allowed on city streets, six members voted against the legislation. And now, Uber is saying thank you.
The global ride-hailing company says it spent $60,000 on mailers that were sent to New Yorkers in the districts of elected officials who voted no.
"Any time you are recognized for standing up for your constituents, I think that's fair," said City Councilman Joe Borelli of Staten Island.
Borelli, a Republica, voted against the Uber cap.
"Right now, there are three Ubers in my entire district. So when we talk about the Uber fight, this is a pretty fundamental problem for Staten Island," Borelli said. "This is the only option for people, and frankly, I want more Ubers here or Lyft or whatever company rather than less."
The City Council members whose districts got the mailers say they did not know Uber was going to send them out.
"I was unaware of the mailer and, quite frankly, surprised to see it when I got home," City Councilman Steve Matteo said in a statement. "My vote was based strictly on the merits of these bills."
This isn't the first time Uber has bankrolled a thank-you mail campaign to praise the votes of New York officials who sided with the company on critical legislation. But this latest round comes at a key time for Uber and other for-hire vehicle companies who want to expand their operations in the city.
The temporary cap on vehicle licenses enacted by the City Council in August lasts only one year, and then, a more permanent set of regulations are expected.
A spokeswoman for Uber said, "We wanted to make sure that New Yorkers knew that their Councilmember stood up for affordable, reliable transportation in the outerboroughs."
As it prepares for a political fight over its future, Uber is also pouring money into an effort to have New York enact congestion pricing. The company's hope seems to be that such a policy would help ensure for-hire vehicles would not be kept off the road in the name of fighting congestion.