N.Y. to impose 1-year cap on new Uber licenses

Bloomberg NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — New York’s city council is poised to approve a one-year cap on new licenses for Uber Technologies Inc. and other ride-sharing vehicles as part of a sweeping package of regulations intended to reduce traffic and halt the downward slide in drivers’ pay.

The measures, scheduled for a Wednesday vote, would make New York the first U.S. city to impose such limits and set a floor on compensation for the industry’s workers.

The plan is backed by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who opposed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s similar proposal three years ago. The council killed that bill after an Uber television advertising campaign featuring drivers and customers. Now, Johnson says, he doesn’t buy Uber’s argument that a one-year “pause” will take away opportunities for jobs and transportation service in neighborhoods outside Manhattan.

“This time around is worlds different,” Johnson said, adding that the five-bill package has broad support among council members. “Congestion is worse now and there are so many for-hire vehicles on the road. We also can’t forget the crushing financial and emotional hardship drivers of all types face.”

The package comes after a spate of driver suicides dramatized the economic plight caused by an oversupply of taxis, e-hail vehicles and limousines. The city has more than 80,000 app-based cars, often without passengers, up from 12,600 since 2015, according to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

App-based companies Uber, Lyft Inc. and Via Transportation Inc. tried to head off the council vote with an offer to set up a $100 million fund to help debt-laden drivers who had borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy taxi medallion operating permits years ago. Council members rejected the deal.

“If they really wanted to help the owner-drivers who are facing financial hardship, they could still do that on their own, but it’s not going to affect how we arrive at a public-policy solution,” Johnson said.

The council bills also set a minimum pay standard, after a study last month found that 85 percent of for-hire vehicle drivers earn less than $17.22 an hour.

A FirstNew York’s growth cap and pay floor each would be the first in the United States, said Uber spokesman Jason Post.

The city is also unique in the United States for regulating app-based companies as for-hire vehicles such as black car limousines, Post said.

The disruption caused by the app-based ride industry has drawn government scrutiny worldwide.

Bulgaria and Italy have moved to ban it, and it’s faced suspensions in France, Spain, Hungary and the Netherlands. In Finland, Uber restarted operations recently after the government enacted new licensing rules. In London, it’s required to offer drivers insurance and limited work hours.Speech

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