The New York City Council, with the help of lefty mayor Bill de Blasio, is working to limit the pace at which ride-booking services like Uber can grow. And by limit the pace, I mean basically stop it in its tracks.
Today Uber tried a gambit to shame them into backing down. Reports Quartz:
New Yorkers using Uber today (July 16) found a new option among the car service's offerings—named after New York's mayor, Bill de Blasio…What happens if you try to choose the service? You get a political message criticizing a De Blasio-endorsed plan to limit the number of cars on Uber's platform for the next year while the city studies its traffic problem…
It also shows a much longer wait time than New Yorkers (and residents of other cities where Uber has gained a foothold) are probably used to. This is meant to to give "a rough estimate of what wait times will be if the Mayor's cap is in effect for one year…based off of the fact that we have 25,000 New Yorkers using the app every week for the first time," said a spokesman in the article.
As I reported in June, proponents of the bill to cap the number of cars Uber can add apparently took a page out of the playbook of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's staff—they say it's necessary so the city can conduct a traffic study. From my interview with Council Member Stephen Levin, who sponsored the legislation:
"New licenses for for-hire vehicles are being issued, right now, left unchecked, at 2,000 a month," he says. "And there are environmental impacts to that, because you have 25,000 new cars on the road that are driving around all the time. There is an impact to congestion, which slows down city buses, for example…There could be health impacts, potentially, with asthma rates. Regardless, it's something that needs to be studied."
He's also confident New Yorkers will do just fine getting around without the missing cars:
"I don't think that anyone who lives in New York right now is saying that there's a scarcity of options for for-hire vehicles," says…Levin, who represents Brooklyn. "It's not hard anywhere in my district at all to find some type of either [outer-burrough] cab, Lyft, Uber, or livery within a matter of minutes, at any time."
I asked Levin why livery companies would be adding 2,000 cars every month if there weren't a "scarcity of options" in New York.
"Um…because…I mean, I don't know," he says. "I think that's one thing the study can look at."
Sounds like sound logic to me.