NYC votes to stop Uber's unchecked growth, give drivers a minimum wage

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New York City is hitting the brakes on fast-expanding ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

The cap will halt new ride-hailing vehicle licenses for one year while the council investigates how to mitigate issues that came with the influx of companies like Uber and Lyft, mostly related to congestion and driver wages. No new licenses will be issued for a full year as the city studies the issue further; legislation also allows the city to set a minimum pay rate for drivers, who, as legal contractors, are not subject to federal or state minimum wages.

Anti-discrimination proponents have backed vehicles dispatched by app as providing a way for people of color to obtain a ride reliably, rather than be illegally ignored by street-hailed cabs, and offering far better access to get picked up or dropped off outside of limited core areas of the city.

The bill stipulates a 12-month cap on all new for-hire-vehicle licenses, unless they are wheelchair accessible, as well as minimum pay requirements for app drivers - regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).

Now the legislation heads for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's desk, who is expected to sign it.

"We are pausing the issuance of new licenses in an industry that has been allowed to proliferate without any appropriate check or regulation", Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker, told the New York Times before the vote.

An ABC investigation found many licensed taxi drivers have warned of the mounting human toll due to industry deregulation, with livelihoods wiped out and increasing pressure on families.

"No one is going to be destroyed by what happened today", Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said after the vote.

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"The unchecked growth of app-based for-hire vehicle companies has demanded action", he added, "and now we have it".

In emails to almost 5 million New Yorkers last month, Uber said riders would face higher prices, longer wait times and less service in the city's outer suburbs by drivers.

At the same time, the value of the medallions that are required to operate a yellow cab has plunged from more than $1million to $200,000 or less, forcing many medallion owners into bankruptcy. "And this victory belongs to New Yorkers and our allies who have stood with us to say, not one more death, not one more fallen driver crushed by poverty and despair".

Right: The real point of this package of bills was simply to give something to Uber's opponents, especially in the struggling yellow-cab industry.

"And you know that yellow don't pick up black".

'They're talking about putting a cap on Uber, do you know how hard it is for black people to get a yellow cab in New York City?' Rev. Al Sharpton wrote on Twitter.

The move to tighten regulation in NY was in part prompted by several recent driver suicides.

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