Free Minds & Free Markets

It's About To Get Even More Expensive To Get Around NYC

City officials are perfectly willing to throw commuters under the bus

In December 2018, New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) imposed a minimum wage on drivers working with services like Lyft and Uber. The new rules set a formula for driver compensation that raises the typical gross wage to $27.86 per hour, which the commission says works out to $17 per hour of take-home pay after expenses.

The wage hike comes just a few short months after the New York City Council passed a law freezing the number of ride-share drivers allowed on city streets. The same law gives the TLC power to impose an even lower cap in the years to come.

Proponents of the new regulations say they are needed to counter declining pay for the city's traditional taxicab drivers and to address traffic congestion. Higher costs will help drivers, they explain, and push more people back onto public transit, where they belong.

These critics have a point. The popularity and affordability of Uber and Lyft have reduced demand for taxis, along with taxi drivers' income. And although the impact on traffic is less clear, the addition of roughly 100,000 ride-share vehicles on New York City streets has coincided with falling transit ridership and rising congestion.

But what critics of ride-sharing don't understand is that these services have been disruptive precisely because they are meeting a need that New York City's incumbent transit options can't or won't.

The city's cartelized taxi industry has long kept driver pay high by keeping the number of cabs low. Such caps allow those lucky enough or rich enough to secure a taxi medallion—which is required if you want to drive a cab in the city—to charge higher fares.

Meanwhile, those too poor for a cab were stuck with the government-funded, publicly operated buses and trains that often left outer borough residents with few transportation options at all. And that was before the city's mass transit system really started to fall apart.

Since 2015, ridership on New York's subway has been dropping precipitously as long-deferred maintenance has led to declining on-time rates, overcrowded train cars, and, on occasion, sewage pouring from the ceiling.

New York City's stabs at regulating ride-sharing services have little to do with making travel easier for city dwellers and much to do with shoring up demand for government-operated transit services. And for that, city officials are perfectly willing to throw commuters under the bus.

Photo Credit: Dimon Blr/Unsplash

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  • BigT||

    Control freaks gonna control.

  • ConstitutionalDon||

    I wonder if that is the origin of the saying: "I'm walkin here!"

  • Cynical Asshole||

    In a round about sort of way, yes. That line was improvised because the street was supposed to be shut down for filming, but some asshole NY cab driver (is there another kind?) ignored the signs and barricades and drove down the street anyway, almost hitting Dustin Hoffman in the process. Hoffman didn't break character and just said the line in the spur of the moment and the director liked it and left it in.

    Perhaps if cabbies weren't such entitled, politically protected jerkwads the cabbie wouldn't have felt like he was special enough to just ignore the street closure.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Hard to choose a hero between an entitled cabbie and an entitled movie producer. But at least we can agree that the Public streets belong to them.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    TOP MEN attacking capitalism and its innovative problem solving based on market signals.

  • Ray McKigney||

    From the city that gave us Kortez the Krazy Kommie.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Could just refer to her as KK...... uh, oh......

  • Tom Bombadil||

    " (TLC) imposed a minimum wage on drivers working with services like Lyft and Uber. "

    The TLC is going to pay the drivers? What an imposition.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Annual subway ridership fell in 2017 to about 1.73 billion trips, down about 2 percent from 2015...
    The number of people using the subway had soared by 2015 to the highest level since 1948 — at times carrying more than 6 million riders in a single day — but the figures began to fall in 2016 as service grew increasingly less reliable. Last year, about 5.6 million riders used the subway on average each weekday, a significant decline that comes even as the city's population and the number of visitors have risen.

    But the declining subway ridership could have wide-ranging consequences: It could hurt the transit agency's finances, increase street congestion and stall the city's economic success as it competes against global cities with better transportation networks. Subway and bus revenue was about $54.8 million less than anticipated this year, or about 3 percent below projections, according to the authority.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    If $55 million is a 3% reduction, that means projected income was $1.8Billion. Damn.

  • John||

    They have $1.8 billion in revenues and somehow can't afford basic maintance to keep the system going.

  • Longtobefree||

    Union pensions ain't cheap, buddy.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    And I'm sure all those city officials are setting their beaks too. Don DeBlasio permits it.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    It's hard to keep ridership up when you are trying to repair the whole system at once.

  • vek||

    That they get fewer rides now than in 1948, with the population being SO much higher, shows how much people DISLIKE fixed line transportation.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    We'll all laugh at this 10 years from now when we all have private high speed electric trains.

  • Ray McKigney||

    Ten years from now, no one will actually travel. Everything will be virtual (except for trips to/from the hospital and to the graveyard).

  • loveconstitution1789||

    We can save TOP MEN all the trouble and just pay our taxes from our graves.

  • Ray McKigney||

    How else can we keep mass transit going when no one uses it?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    True. Maybe mobile graveyards?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "Ten years from now, no one will actually travel."

    I'm pretty sure Top Men will still travel to Davos.

  • No Time for Fishing||

    You won't know because Big Brother (formerly known as the DNC Propaganda Machine formerly known as the MSM formerly known as journalist) won't tell you and you may remember long ago when information was available on the wild and free internet but you won't be willing to speak those memories out loud.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Ten years from now, no one will actually travel."'

    After President AOC, no one will have the money to travel.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Those lucky New Yorkers will be able to take NY Taxis cross country when airplanes are banned in 10 years.

  • ConstitutionalDon||

    That sounds like a business opportunity.
    OVER - It's like UBER but only for trips of a hundred miles or more.

  • John||

    But we won't have that unless they figure out a way to eliminate cow farts first.

  • Longtobefree||


  • Cynical Asshole||

    Higher costs will help drivers, they explain, and push more people back onto public transit, where they belong.

    Well, duh. Driving in NYC is to be reserved for the privileged few, including taxi cartel members, not the hoi polloi.


  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Who's gonna need a car? When the Gangrene New Deal is implemented, we'll all march to work from the Worker's Barracks to our 12 hour shift at the Comrade Ocasio-Cortex Windmill Factory, march to the Worker's Mess Hall for our daily bowl of gruel, and then back to the barracks.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hopefully the lefties can keep us in endless wars so we can all march from the factories to the front lines.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Hillary was ready to set us up for a war with Russia.

  • RPGuy16||

    "Higher costs will help drivers, they explain, and push more people back onto public transit, where they belong."


  • Outofpatience||

    The MTA is so terribly mismanaged. On-time performance drops year on year without fail. No president has lasted longer than 4 years since 2007 (most of them, less than 2 years). Every fare hike is presumably to head-off a labor strike. Labor costs in the MTA's budget are always well over 100% of operating revenue - they are absolutely insolvent without grants.

    But they have to protect both the MTA's and TLC's labor unions, so fuck Uber, fuck Lyft, go pump your money into our shitty transit system. Good luck getting home. Oh, and because rousting homeless people from the subway is now a mean, bad thing, good luck NOT smelling piss and shit at some point during your commute.

    But yeah, the government is great. They sure know how to run a business.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    I have yet to understand the fundamental difference between taxi drivers and Uber/Lyft drivers in employment law. Taxi drivers are always private contractors-no issue with that.

    - Taxi drivers either own or lease their vehicle. Uber/Lyft drivers own theirs.
    - Both work as much or little as they want, when they want.
    - Neither are under direct supervision of the company
    - Both pay for all expenses, gas, insurance, dispatch service, etc. They keep whatever is left. Lost money today? Too bad.

    I get FYTW is powerful, particularly with local tyrants, but this should be a easy thing to dismiss in court.

    BTW, taxi owners pay the graft for the medallion, not the drivers, although they may be the same person. As Seinfeld said, the only qualification for driving a taxi is you need a face.

  • ||

    That's the sticking point - that they have to put up a mortgage for the medallion and so no fair!

    Well, that's not Uber/Lyft's fault.

    Take it to the government.

  • vek||

    Although adding in layers of pointless crap is pointless... The reality is that basically every single driver in NYC is ALREADY making over this. So depending on how they're attempting to implement this, there may be no net change in anything. If they're just doing it in a "company has to cover any gap between this number and actual earnings" style, like with tipped waiters, then nothing will change. If they've directly raised decreed price per mile etc then it may go up, but the real numbers for drivers will already be well above those figures.


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