After a City Council vote, New York City has become the first major U.S. city to put a limit to ride-hailing services and for-hire cars. While the limit has a duration of only one year and wheelchair-accessible vehicles are exempt, Uber and Lyft will not be able to acquire new licenses. The goal is the freeze is to prevent further impact if these services truly has a negative impact on traffic congestion and allow time for further studies. The issue was brought forth when the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) released a report stating there were currently over 100,000 ride-hailing vehicles in New York City, almost doubled from the 63,000 in 2015.
TLC also reported those vehicles made 17 million trips in February 2018 while medallion taxis only made 8.5 million trips during the same period, down from 11 million two years prior. Taxis must own a medallion in order to operate in the city and before the age of ride-hailing services, the medallions were worth up to $1.3 million. But the rise of Uber and Lyft has seen the medallion drop to estimates of around $160,000.
Prior to the City Council vote, both Uber and Lyft released separate statements on the issue. Uber felt while some of the regulations put forward were worthwhile, limiting the number of vehicles on the road would result in their services being less competitive. Lyft mirrored similar thoughts and claimed the legislation could reduce 25 percent drivers on the road. Both companies predicted limiting the amount of their drivers will essentially allow the TLC to regulate their prices. Proponents of the legislation argued that most ride-hailing drivers make less than minimum wage and will offer more fares to the drivers left on the road. At the same time, the theory is limiting drivers will remove drivers from driving aimlessly waiting for fares which will reduce congestion on the roads.