Uber and the City of New York Come to a Compromise

An Uber Brooklyn advertisement
An Uber Brooklyn advertisement

The simmering fight between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Uber cooled off considerably this afternoon, when it was announced that the car service and the city of New York agreed to a "framework" that offers a few compromises between the sides.

At issue is Uber's phenomenal growth, specifically the car service's plan to increase its ranks in New York by 10,000 drivers over the next year. Rubbing against that are concerns from the mayor's office about the sort of traffic congestion that comes from adding 10,000 cars to city streets. The fact that the taxi industry donated heavily to de Blasio's mayoral campaign only complicates matters.

And the fight seemed to approach a boiling point this week, with talk of putting the City Council to a vote on capping any new Uber vehicles (and of studying the congestion issue for nine months before that).

This afternoon, both sides announced their agreement to study traffic in the city through the end of November. We've asked the mayor's office when that study will begin; we'll update when we hear back. Only after that study will any action be taken. 

During the study period, Uber will share information "above and beyond what has previously been provided" with the city about its customers and usage — "with safeguards to protect privacy."

In turn, the city will put a hold on legislation that could cap the company's growth.

Also announced by the mayor's office:

- Uber "has also agreed to maintain its approximate current rate of growth and not flood the streets with new licenses and vehicles." When the Voice asked an Uber rep what its "approximate current rate of growth" was, we were referred to this statement. The city does add about 2,000 for-hire vehicles a month, writes de Blasio in this recent op-ed.

- The "city and transportation stakeholders will participate in a larger review of the entire taxi, [for-hire vehicle], and livery industries, with a particular focus on revenue for public transit, consumer protections, driver and employee protections, and accessibility for people with disabilities."

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In a statement, Uber NYC general manager Josh Mohrer said that "we are pleased new drivers will continue to be free to join the for-hire industry and partner with Uber."

Lyft, a competitor to Uber that focuses on the downright egalitarian concept of ride-sharing (compared to Uber's polished black town cars), sounded off on Monday with a tweet that reads: "#NYC traffic congestion can be improved by sharing, not by limiting ridesharing."

[nlucchesi@villagevoice.com][@nicklucchesi]


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