A New York City councilman has put forth a bill that addresses some of the anxiety coursing through the taxi industry: that Uber and Lyft could lower their fares so that their passengers won’t feel the pain of the new surcharges.
The proposed bill comes just over a month before congestion pricing fees passed by Albany go into effect.
In January, passengers of trips that at any point travel through Manhattan below 96th Street will begin paying an additional $2.75 if they’re in a ride-hail vehicle and $2.50 if they’re in a cab, reports Crain’s New York Business. The fees are expected to raise $400 million that will go towards fixing the subways.
“Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., chair of the For-Hire Vehicles committee, submitted to the City Council earlier this week a bill that would “would prevent high-volume for-hire services from reducing fares to a level below that charged by metered services.” “If it’s going to cost five dollars and eighty cents to step into a cab, then by golly it’s going to cost that much to get into an Uber,” said Christopher Lynn, Diaz’s lawyer, who wrote the bill, Crain’s added.
“Come January, riders will be subject to new state and city regulations that will result in higher fares, especially in Manhattan,” an Uber spokeswoman said. A spokeswoman for Lyft said the company also would not lower fares. “We are optimistic for how this will help address the congestion and transit issues the city faces,” she said.
The tech magazine Wired reported recently that New York City became the first US city to pass legislation capping the number of ride-hail vehicles on its roads. “No longer will the city of New York stand by idly while unfettered growth in the for-hire sector causes ever worsening traffic congestion, ever rising environmental degrading, and ever deepening human suffering,” Ritchie Torres, a council member representing the central Bronx, said before voting for the legislation.
For Uber and Lyft, Wired explained the loss at the council is “a shift in fortunes—but one that’s been a long time coming. Much has changed since ride-hail companies injected themselves into American transportation systems in the early 2010’s. At the start, the companies revolutionized personal transit, allowing users to quickly call a car, or drivers to get into the gig economy. Regulators and city councils might have been frustrated by the startups’ “launch first, ask questions later” approach, but often lacked the authority to do much about it—or the political capital to try. Now, after years of scandal, bad press, and mounting reports that they are making traffic worse, the companies seem more ready to make concessions. And cities are finding new ways to assert their authority.”
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