New York has now become the first major American city that has decided to stop issuing new vehicle licenses for hail-riding cars, giving a big blow to Lyft and Uber, whose largest market is in the United States, especially in New York.
The legislation passed on Wednesday with an overwhelming support and the bill also allows New York to set a minimum $15 pay rate for the drivers. For now, the decision to halt the vehicles will affect the companies for 12 months, during which the council will study the impact the industry has had on the city itself.
Uber and Lyft have said that this decision will lead to longer wait times and unreliable services throughout the city, while the council insisted it would not perturb citizens’ lives.
This comes a while after New York taxi drivers have staged protests against the services and have repeatedly lobbied elected officials, while others have filed for bankruptcy and, in some cases, have reportedly committed suicide after falling too deep into debt.
Both Uber and Lyft pushed back on the protests though, having funded million dollar campaigns which urged customers to speak on their behalf. The idea was to highlight how drivers would lose their income while residents who lacked access to most public transit would be left without options, considering they are often overlooked by conventional taxi services.
Even so, the fact still stands, loud and clear, that the taxi industry has been slowly eaten away by the rise of Uber and Lyft. The two companies have contributed to lowering the price of a compulsory taxi medallion from $1 million to under $200,000.
For now, the taxi drivers are rejoicing for the temporary victory. It remains to be seen how the conflict will be solved, given that Uber and Lyft will not step away without a fight.