Backing down completely from a proposal it first made last summer, the de Blasio administration today said it will not seek to cap the number of Uber vehicles on city streets. But as our Bobby Cuza explains, the city is moving to more tightly regulate the way that Uber does business — including its fares.
Last summer when city officials proposed limiting the number of new Uber licenses, they linked the company’s explosive growth to increased traffic in Manhattan. Friday, they essentially conceded that they were wrong.
A new report that was the product of months of study found that Uber and other app-based services have essentially just replaced yellow taxi trips. Thus, “e-dispatch does not appear to be driving the additional congestion," the report said.
Instead, the report pointed to factors like population growth, tourism, and construction.
“I think there’s a lot of causes of congestion. Obviously construction, which has been very strong in the last couple of years, is one of them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "But we’ll have more to say on where we go from here."
Indeed, while City Hall is no longer pushing an Uber cap, the report does make other recommendations, like requiring Uber and other services to provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles and to kick in funding for mass transit, as yellow and green taxis do with a 50-cent surcharge.
And under legislation that the City Council plans to introduce, Uber would have to provide riders a price estimate, with the actual fare not allowed to exceed the estimate by more than 20 percent.
“This is about being fair to everyone. This is about protecting the consumers," said City Councilor Ydanis Rodríguez of District 10, who is also the chair of the council's Committee on Transportation.
Other proposals that the Council announced Friday would improve drivers' benefits, including requiring the city to administer a health care program and streamlining the licensing process, creating a universal license for all for-hire drivers.
“Ultimately, that’s what this is about: making sure that in a rapidly changing environment, and a rapidly changing industry, that there is a level playing field, so that everybody can compete evenly," said City Councilor Stephen Levin of District 33, who is also the chair of the council's Committee on General Welfare.
Uber said in a statement that it will be reviewing the proposals but is supportive of several of them. Meanwhile, City Hall’s report didn't explicitly refer to congestion pricing, but hinted at it, saying that the city should take steps to shift low-occupancy cars out of the Manhattan core during peak travel times.