Uber Hits a Pothole in NYC πŸš–

Buck Ennis / Crain's New York Business

Buck Ennis / Crain's New York Business

No new ride-share licenses for a year

On Wednesday, NYC City Council voted to stop issuing ridesharing business licenses (required to operate as a driver for Uber, Lyft, Via, etc) - for a year while the city studies the effects these services have on the city. The council also voted to allow the city to impose a minimum wage for rideshare drivers.


It's about congestion

The council says the move is aimed at reducing the congestion ridesharing apps have contributed to NYC. The number of rideshare vehicles in the city has ballooned from 63,000 in 2015 to over 100,000 today. Meanwhile, there are ~14,000 yellow taxis. A 2017 report found that rideshare vehicles spend nearly as much time idling on NYC streets as carrying passengers.


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Pro-free-market folks, who oppose the new regulations, argue that they will harm New Yorkers. Articles argue that ridesharing apps raise the quality of life for New Yorkers who don't have reliable or easy access to mass transit. These folks believe the regulations are all politics: targeting rideshare apps distracts the public from the political failures that have made mass transit in NYC so unreliable in recent years.

Pro-regulation folks focus on the positive impact these rules will have on rideshare and taxi drivers. Articles point out that cabbies have suffered from the rise of Uber. The value of a NYC taxi medallion has plummeted from $1M+ to ~$200K. There’s been a recent spate of suicides as cabbies struggle to make enough money to keep afloat amid the competition. Limiting the supply of rideshare cars and instituting a minimum wage, they argue, is key to protect the well-being of drivers.

Should ride share apps be regulated?

The pro-free-market arguments are logical, but we naturally have limits on any free market in this country: we have minimum wage laws, OSHA regulations, and child labor laws, to name a few. This problem is about balancing the needs of several parties - rideshare drivers, yellow taxi drivers, and New Yorkers. A little regulation may go a long way to help. As promised, Uber and co have disrupted transportation; maybe it’s time to limit the human cost of the change. 

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