New York City is dealing with several very real and serious problems when it comes to transportation. The influx of Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services has disrupted the decades-old highly regulated medallion system, leaving some drivers broke or barely scraping by, with horrible consequences. The city is also battling climate change, to the scary impacts of which vehicle emissions contribute.
In response to these very important and pressing issues, the City Council and the mayor moved last week to cap the number of for-hire vehicles (FHVs) in the city with a series of bills. In doing so, we believe they demonstrated their idiocy, smallness and inability to handle the major issues and obstacles that our city currently confronts.
We say that because this bill, at best, is going to provide short-term relief to a small group of drivers who are experiencing real pain.
Is the cap going to reduce congestion and pollution? Likely, no.
Is the cap going to help medallion owners and yellow-cab drivers make more money? Likely, no.
Is the cap going to stem the growth of tech-based ridesharing services? Likely, no.
You see, these tech companies are playing chess while the City Council reads the rules of checkers. Uber and Lyft and others fought this fight publicly last week with the City Council—argued that the cap would be awful for consumers—while they simultaneously mapped out a 12-month plan to get around this bill.
We don’t know what that plan is at this point. We likely won’t know until a year from now, when people start figuring it out months after implementation; when stories start appearing with headlines like “How Ridesharing Giants Skirted the NYC Cap on FHVs.”
And in that time, we will be one year deeper into devastating impacts of climate change, with elected leaders doing nothing. Yellow-cab drivers will be one year further along, having experienced little relief as regulations fail to stem the power of innovation.
And one year from now, we will likely have this fight once again.