NYC Mayor takes second swing at ride-sharing and gig economy

Earlier, we looked at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest move to break the backs of Airbnb hosts in his city to please the Hotel industry lobbyists and unions. At the time, the Mayor promised that there was more to come in his war on the gig economy and the next round would be going after Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing technology. Well, that didn’t take long at all. Yesterday evening de Blasio served up the second round with new restrictions on drivers.

The City Council on Wednesday approved sweeping new regulations on app-based car services such as Uber and Lyft aimed at improving driver pay while stanching the flood of new e-hail cars onto city streets.

Passage of the legislation is seen as a victory for yellow taxi drivers and anti-congestion warriors who have decried the lack of regulation on app-based companies.

The council, in a 39-6 vote, approved a one-year moratorium on the issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses while it studies the impact that the rapidly growing industry is having on the city.

The number of licensed for-hire vehicles has tripled since 2011 — from 38,600 to 112,000 as of July this year, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Here’s how Hizonor announced the big move on Twitter.

The obvious duplicity in all of this was clear and one of the Mayor’s constituents quickly answered in the appropriate fashion.

The city is claiming that this is only a one year “pause” on allowing new drivers, but that’s clearly not all they have in mind for their long game. They’ve been trying to find a way to kick out ride-sharing and give all the business back to the Yellow Cabs ever since Uber first showed up.

As with the crackdown on Airbnb hosts, the mayor and City Council are doing backflips to explain this away as anything other than what it actually is. They’re talking about there being “too many drivers” creating too much competition and lower pay. The reality is that this is just the free market in action. Consumers want more options and services available. Having lots of drivers means shorter wait times for a ride. The drivers who really hustle will get the business and others, sadly, will probably drop out of the race. Welcome to capitalism.

The city leadership is also claiming that the roads are too congested with all of these ride-hailing cars running around. But that claim is the most easily batted away. If you add another thousand yellow cabs to the current count you would indeed have another thousand cars clogging the streets. But the Uber and Lyft drivers are local residents using their own cars. Those cars, in nearly all cases, were already on the streets. Yes, the traffic in the Big Apple is a nightmare. Believe me… I’ve lived with it. But it was that way long before Uber came to town and a few thousand new drivers isn’t a drop in the bucket to a city of more than eight million people and who knows how many tourists every day.

This is yet another gift being given to the taxi companies, their unions and their powerful lobbyists. These groups are being crushed by the superior service that drivers using ride-sharing apps offer and they don’t like that a bit. Since they donate plenty of money to New York City politicians, they have some favors coming and this seems to be one of them.