Uber

NYC Bill to Stop Uber From Growing Now About Protecting Passengers, or Something

The latest in the Uber wars is more inanity.

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On Thursday I noted here at Hit & Run that Uber was using creative means to fight back against proposed legislation in New York City that would cap its ability to register new cars at 1 percent a year. Residents who took the time to write to the city and voice their disapproval apparently received the following message back. (Hat tip to two different readers for forwarding the below to us.)

Thank you for your message.

Rest assured, despite the overheated rhetoric – Uber is welcome in New York City.  There are – and there will be going forward – more for-hire cars and drivers on our roads than ever before. 

The reality is that today in New York City, Uber – a $40 billion corporation – is spending millions on a misleading political campaign to convince New Yorkers that it doesn't need more oversight from the City. 

Meanwhile, there are serious questions about how Uber treats its customers, its workers, and whether it is flooding New York City's already heavily-crowded streets with thousands of more vehicles.

New Yorkers deserve a real examination of whether Uber drivers are treated fairly; whether customers are protected against discrimination; whether Uber and other for-hire services will provide accessibility for the disabled, which they don't do reliably today; and whether New York City streets will become even more clogged as tens of thousands of more vehicles enter the market.

The City has a responsibility to keep people safe, to ensure workers and customers are treated fairly, to keep our streets moving, and to keep our economy competitive. That is why the City is supporting a temporary growth limit on new for-hire vehicles added to our streets, including those operated by Uber, while it can study their real impact over a short period of time.  

Contrary to the misinformation out there, no one is banning Uber or ending it as you know it. The service you use today will continue to be there tomorrow, the day after, and in the months ahead.  We want passengers to continue to have access to the ever-improving service that companies like Uber are helping to provide.

But no company, no matter how big it is or how much it spends on ads, has a blank check to skirt vital protections and oversight for New Yorkers.  Protecting New Yorkers' health and safety remains our first priority, and the City's responsibility is to establish basic rules to do exactly that.

And all companies have to play by them.

Tony Shorris
First Deputy Mayor

Emphasis mine.

A few weeks ago when I interviewed City Council Member Stephen Levin, who sponsored the bill in question, he told me the purpose of freezing ride-booking companies' growth was that the city needed to be able to study the impacts on traffic congestion and the environment. He also mentioned that all these "new cars" on the roads could have health effects, like leading to higher asthma rates.

We'll leave aside for the time being the dubiousness of assuming that all the cars being registered to livery services are actually new to the city (as opposed to being cars owned by people already living in New York who simply decided to make some extra money by giving other people a lift).

It's telling that in the above email from New York's first deputy mayor, neither the potential "health impacts" nor the environmental effects that Levin was so worried about are there to be found.

Instead, the city has come up with a whole new post hoc rationale for stopping Uber in its tracks: oversight. Because who could be against that?

Mayor Bill de Blasio's office is saying, in essence, that in order to make sure Uber's drivers are treated fairly, the city's going to prevent any more of them from being able to work. In order to make sure Uber's customers aren't being discriminated against (as if traditional cab drivers aren't infamous for using stereotypes in choosing whom to pick up and where to go), the city's going to impose longer wait times and higher prices on everyone. And in order to make sure disabled Americans have equal rights, the city's going to impede access to a service that makes life easier for the millions of people who don't have disabilities.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out Reason TV's excellent mini-documentary on the D.C. Uber Wars below.

NEXT: China's Secret Labor Camps: Laogai Prison Survivor Speaks Out

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  1. I’ve had some really bad experiences with some really rotten “properly” licensed cabbies.

    Once again, who is it this bill is intended to keep safe?

    1. flooding New York City’s already heavily-crowded streets with thousands of more vehicles

      OMFG!!!1

      the dubiousness of assuming that all the cars being registered to livery services are actually new to the city

      They’re not. The vast majority I have seen are existing livery cars.

      1. Those in power are protecting their partners in crony racketeering; and they don’t even care how obvious they are about it.

      2. There’s a part in Restaurant at the End of the Universe in which Adams describes a planet that crashed its own economy with a surplus of shoes. More and more shoe shops began opening up, and the shoes became shoddier, which required buying shoes more often, which led to more shoe shops opening, until the entire planet was given over to the manufacture and sale of shoddy shoes and civilization collapsed.

        This is de Blasio economics in a nutshell.

        1. Was that the sole reason? Why did the politicians of that planet not bring this malinvestment to heel? Was the population not in step with understanding the arguments and thus would not put an upper limit on the amount of stores?

          1. That last one was a bit shoehorned, I’m afraid.

            1. Should I let that go? Sure, no tongue lashing *this time*.

              1. Is that your last response?

    2. If Uber has some incidents of discrimination, why not prosecute them on an individual case basis? You’re shutting them down to prevent future crimes?

      Face it, for liberals, freelance work = “unregulated activity rife with potential abuse”. Why they don’t apply this logic to illegal immigration and government spying is beyond me.

    3. Yes this….having been based in NYC for my job, if you want a friendly cabby and not get ripped off, go with Uber. But the central planners/organized criminals want to absolutely control the populace and commerce—for your own good, so be thankful, damnit!!!

  2. I hope the idiot proggie hipsters who love both Uber and the State aren’t too terribly upset after the State fucks their beloved ride sharing services to death.

    1. Sadly, whenever the idiot proggie hipsters must choose between their beloved State of Statism and anything else they love, their will almost certainly choose their State.

    2. Uber will survive, turn around, and use the state to crush competition. And the idiot proggy hipster doofuses currently celebrating the “sharing economy” will grow to despise Uber while wondering what happened.

  3. the city’s going to impede access to a service that makes life easier for the millions of people who don’t have disabilities

    I’m guessing they’re going to demand some percentage of cars take wheelchairs? They did this to cabs too. And in 20 years I have never, ever seen a wheelchair enter a taxi. Why? Because the disable *already* have a separate service dedicated to them.

  4. “Protecting New Yorkers’ health and safety remains our first priority”

    “We are therefore banning automobiles within the city limits.”

    1. “We are therefore banning automobiles people within the city limits. But leave your money.”

  5. Rest assured, despite the overheated rhetoric ? Uber is welcome in New York City.

    Phew.

    1. Is it phew or is it pee-u; that’s some fragrant bull crap.

  6. Not to give them ideas, but the city could win this battle in an instant by claiming that Uber drivers will take your parking spot.

  7. The reality is that today in New York City, Uber ? a $40 billion corporation ? is spending millions on a misleading political campaign to convince New Yorkers that it doesn’t need more oversight from the City.

    If they need convincing that NOBODY needs more oversight from the City, they can walk, fall down an open manhole and slowly sink into the sewage.

  8. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical to get for the thing to pass. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

    You’re being Grubered NYC. And sadly, the majority of you seem to support it.

    1. the majority of you seem to support it

      Please – the NYT isn’t even buying it.

      1. Yes but read the comments. Their mouth breather readership does.

        1. I read a few. It’s more balanced than you’re letting on.

          1. Eddie Lew 4 hours ago
            This is the result of a society that the fetish of individual rights has turned into selfishness. Single driver passenger cars feel they have the right to congest and pollute New York City. The blessing of everyone having a car has turned sour on us as responsibility evolves into pure selfishness.

            1. Agitprop aside, “single driver passenger cars” are the obvious reason behind traffic congestion in NYC. Which is hardly surprising giving that most of the city was built before WWII.

              1. Rhywun, you’re in Brooklyn, no? How long have you been there? Did you see what Bloomberg did to Vanderbilt, Classon, and other roads running between Eastern Parkway and Atlantic Ave?

            2. To be pedantic, I’ve never seen anything but ‘single-driver’ motor vehicles (apart from specialty driver’s ed cars). Also, in Manhattan, most of the traffic I see is comprised of taxis, buses, and commercial vehicles, to see lots of personal cars, one must visit the Outer Boroughs. I would have more sympathy for the traffic argument if the last mayor had not spent his whole time in office reducing the number of motor vehicle lanes in an effort to increase traffic congestion.

              1. I’m guessing they meant a car with 1 driver and 0 passengers.

                I’m not familiar with the area you mentioned but I’m going to guess you’re referring to either bike or bus lanes? I don’t own a car (nor do I want to – that is one reason I live in NYC) so my opinions are probably going to reflect that. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the endless bitching and moaning of drivers who choose to live in a city like NY. That said, I am neutral on bike lanes. I don’t see them getting the use that they expect. But I am a fan of bus lanes – I live on the slowest line in the city and it’s really no better than walking. This is mostly due to rampant double-parking.

                1. No such niceties as dedicated bike lanes. They took Vanderbilt from 2 lanes in both directions with a turning lane in the middle to 1 lane in each direction and a HUGE raised concrete median with potted plants down the middle. On double parking, this is the only city I’ve lived in where that is tolerated; other places tow with the quickness.

                  Also, when are we having a NYC meetup? There are a number of us here in the area; I’m out in the Rockaways but would be happy to schlep into the city to hang out with y’all.

                  1. Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge is basically 3/4 of a lane in each direction and 4 lanes of parking, for 40 blocks. I can’t imagine the nightmare of adding tow trucks to the mix.

                    1. The BEST tamales I’ve ever had (that were not homemade) are from a place on 4th Av. in the low 50s, La Guerra or something like that. It’s a tiny Mexican restaurant with a plywood tamale stand molly-bolted to the front and a little old lady vending 5 or 6 flavors from big Igloo chests. $1 each for tamales and $2 Bud long necks make for a wonderful lunch.

                  2. They took Vanderbilt from 2 lanes in both directions with a turning lane in the middle to 1 lane in each direction and a HUGE raised concrete median with potted plants down the middle.

                    I think if I lived on Vanderbilt I would love that. That is not a major thoroughfare.

                2. Also, I feel your MTA pain. I have a co-worker who lives a few blocks from me; my 20 minute drive to work in Queens is, for him, an hour and a half ordeal of the A train and 2 buses.

                  1. My commute to Manhattan was bearable until the IT industry was priced into New Jersey.

  9. I thought they were going to hire Sharpton as a “consultant.”

    Heck, hire all the city councillors’ relatives as “consultants.”

    1. Just let them wet their beaks, it will be less burdensome than complying with some new regulations.

    2. Whenever I think “consultant” Al Sharpton is the first name that comes to mind.

      1. Nice work if you can get it.

    3. Negro! Please!

      1. Triger werds!!

        1. Trigga, please.

  10. whether customers are protected against discrimination

    Something something free association.

    whether Uber and other for-hire services will provide accessibility for the disabled

    I suppose they will if the driver h owns a handicap accessible car. This is a simple business model. It’s not rocket science.

    to ensure workers and customers are treated fairly

    Customers can determine whether or not they have been treated fairly. And I understand that Uber has a system in which they will fire bad drivers without hesitation.

    That is why the City is supporting a temporary growth limit on new for-hire vehicles added to our streets, including those operated by Uber, while it can study their real impact over a short period of time

    A study that will no doubt conclude that there is no “need” for Uber because of the existing entrenched taxi cartel.

    And in order to make sure disabled Americans have equal rights…

    Ugh. No person has any legitimate “right” to the labor of another person. Though I realize the government (that ostensibly banned slavery and involuntary servitude) will no doubt continue to coerce people to serve politically favored groups.

    1. The point is, I don’t think these are the *real* reasons.

    2. The funny thing is, Uber could easily pay a premium (and charge one, too) for handicap-accessible vehicles. That particular concern is a complete nothing sandwich in light of the already working product. But NYC would destroy any opportunity to serve those customers on the premise that if everyone isn’t served, nobody should be served.

      But just calling them myopic imbeciles gives them too much credit, since as Notorious noted, accessibility is just a greasy excuse to tamp down on or extort Uber. The idiots are the NYC denizens supporting these regulations.

      1. The funny thing is, Uber could easily pay a premium (and charge one, too) for handicap-accessible vehicles.

        I’ve never had the need to use Uber or similar services, but it would seem to be child’s play to merely add an option on the customer app to indicate that you need a wheelchair accessible vehicle, and then have that info sent to drivers who register their cars with Uber as being such.

        1. If we let you do that, then somebody else is going to start “improving” things, and pretty soon, it’s chaos.
          No. The government will take care of it, thank you very much.

  11. “NYC Bill to Stop Uber From Growing Now About Protecting Passengers,…”

    Protecting them from the pain of lower prices and better service, like governments everywhere.

    1. Nobody needs more than one taxi company!

      B. Sanders.

      1. Boy Denver sure needs some more competition. The bands here are horrible. You have to call them like a half hr ahead of time at least. And, it’s illegal to hail a cab on the street, or rather, is illegal for them to stop and pick you up.
        I’ve call cabs sometimes that never show up. I had one company refuse to send a cab to meet me at the light rail station I was en route to, telling me that I had to call when I got there, and then wait for the cab, even though I told them the exact minute my train would arrive.
        If you’re flying into Denver, find a good car service, and get the driver’s card. Or use Uber.

        1. Uh cabs, not bands. The bands here are great.

  12. And in order to make sure disabled Americans have equal rights, the city’s going to impede access to a service that makes life easier for the millions of people who don’t have disabilities.

    Even if additional Uber vehicles are not equipped to handle disabled passengers, their presence in the market still benefits disabled passengers. Suitably equipped vehicles do not only convey disabled passengers; quite often — probably most of the time — they convey ordinary passengers. More vehicles for those without disabilities frees up more suitable vehicles for the disabled. An information system like Uber has the additional advantage over conventional regulated taxi services. A regulator can only mandate accommodations on all, or a significant fraction, of taxis to be suitable for disabled passengers. Uber can quantify this market segment, match appropriate vehicles to customer needs, and let the market make the correct allocation of resources. Perhaps the popular sentiment requires a purely beneficent regulator would mandate that the disabled pay no more than ordinary passengers, ceteris paribus. However, I seriously doubt that fares for the disabled in a genuinely free market would be higher than they are now.

    1. Wheelchairs? I’d go with a stake bed truck with a tailgate lift.

      1. My wife says this would be undignified. I said “Hey, if they’re willing to use the service they’ve priced in the value of their dignity.”

  13. Why don’t we just let the customers provide the necessary oversight? If Uber drivers are not providing the necessary services, people can choose to use a taxi, instead, right?

  14. All this brain-twisting in the attempt to justify unnecessary gubmint intervention is starting to grate on m’nerves.

    1. Brain twisting? It’s more like that scene in the movie of Mars Attacks wherein the Martians are running around looting & shooting, saying, “Do not run! We are your friends!”

  15. Reason:” We’ll leave aside for the time being the dubiousness of assuming that all the cars being registered to livery services are actually new to the city (as opposed to being cars owned by people already living in New York who simply decided to make some extra money by giving other people a lift).”

    Oh please. Most of these vehicles are creating congestion in Manhattan but they are not being parked there. What Uber driver could afford to garage his car on the island?

    Adding 26,000 vehicles that are on the road eight hours a day is obviously going to create more congestion. Uber seems to think it has an unlimited right to add as many cars as it wants.

    1. Hmmm, so the garages charge enough so that they’re not crammed with the cars of Uber drivers? I wonder if that logic would extend to the streets outside the garages.

    2. Adding 26,000 vehicles that are on the road eight hours a day is obviously going to create more congestion.

      Not if they provide a couple of rides each for five people who otherwise would bring their own 130,000 cars.

      1. No, see, what they should do is walk to a bus station, wait for a bus to take them to a train station, wait for the train, take the train to another station, and walk or use mass transit to get to their destination. Sure, if you have to be at work at 8 in the morning you might have to leave your house by 5 am, but SOSHUL KONTRAKT!

        1. Nobody is forcing them to live in or around NYC. You can either take transit or pay 50+ dollars a day to park – your choice.

  16. A few weeks ago my girlfriend went through a grocery store line. Her attendant thanked her for having chosen the line rather than one of the self-checkout kiosks. She then proceeded to deliver a sermon on the evils of automation displacing jobs like hers, and how we all need to do our part to ensure there’s enough work for everyone to live comfortably.

    Meanwhile she rang up a bundle of deli meat for $3 less than it should have been. My girlfriend pursed her lips and went on her way.

    1. We already knew your girlfriend enjoyed cheap meat.

      1. Shit, she’s living with a man who spends a not inconsequential amount of time commenting on a libertarian website. She knows what she’s gotten into.

    2. That’s an old trick. It’s like the “hard of hearing” partner in front “mishearing” the price being called from the back. Trust me, if anything you paid too much for that deli meat thinking you were getting a crooked bargain from a clerk who was “on your side”.

    3. Stealing from your employer as a way to thank your employer’s customers for helping make you appear needed at your workplace is an awesome way to ensure your own job security.

      1. Oh, see, I don’t think it was intentional. The deli clerk fucked up the price sticker and had to throw a second one on the bundle, but the cashier didn’t notice and rung up the cheaper one. Now, it’s not at all inconceivable that a customer using the checkout kiosk would ring up the lesser amount, but it was humorous given the girl’s tirade that she proceeds to lose her employer money.

        1. Unintentionally under charging your employer’s customers for their merchandise is an awesome way to ensure your own job security?

          1. I mean, ringing stuff up for the correct price is kind of a core component of the job. “Being straight-up bad at your job is an awesome way etc”

        2. It is a little humorous.

    4. I’ve found, in my rigorously controlled study of shopping at area markets, that the addition of self-checkout kiosks has resulted in fewer cashiers but also more employees being on the sales floor to answer questions and properly stock the shelves. I would rather ring up and bag my own groceries at the Stop & Shop than wait for the register operator and get nasty looks from the bag-boy because I don’t tip them.

      1. nasty looks from the bag-boy

        They’re probably not allowed to take tips. The nasty look just says “I hate my job”.

  17. What gives me a chuckle is reading comments on the NYT. Specifically those that express grave concern drivers arent employees but rather contractors….that deserve full benefits and wages (while not describing what this entails and how they determined this) while the company rakes in billions!! Obviously ignoring that party A and party B agreed to those terms… so why is it party c who is in no way affiliated’s business? What if i want to work for free via my own app ridesharing just to be generous so customers can profit? What if i am cool with what Uber provides as compensation? What if i want to work for uber for no fee and just for fun? That is my business. If the uber drivers were getting screwed/exploited/insert random emotional talking point…have to wonder why they are doing it. It is just a way for party C to feel smug about themselves. One particular comment was…”uber is like walmart…..consumers walk all over others for their own convenience”

    What me thinks it might be is that they hate profit and our control freaks

  18. “uber is like walmart…..consumers walk all over others for their own convenience”

    I wish they’d explained who exactly is getting walked all over in either side of that comparison.

  19. If you can’t work, you have no chance of committing acts of discrimination in the workplace.

    The logic for this kind of preemptive regulation is foolproof.

  20. Yeah,I very briefly dated a woman who told me things like: You vote with your dollars, so it’s wrong to shop at WalMart and Chik-Fila, cause feels and evil teathuglicans.
    She was very nice, and otherwise intelligent, but we had no chemistry.

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