Uber filed a lawsuit against New York City, The Verge reported. The company wants to overturn New York City’s rule that caps the number of new ride-hailing drivers. Last summer, the city approved legislation that halts the issuing of new licenses to drivers for 12 months.
It has been a multi-year fight between Uber and New York City. NYC mayor Bill de Blasio has been in favor of new legislation to regulate ride-hailing companies for years. And the NYC Council finally voted in favor of such a new rule back in August 2018.
Uber has had a strong stance against the new regulatory framework. Before the vote, the company even called loyal customers to ask them to call local council members and support Uber.
There are a few reasons why policymakers have been in favor of the halt. First, taxi medallion holders have been suffering from the sudden market changes caused by Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies. The value of their licenses have dropped significanyly, which created some financial issues for drivers who got a credit to acquire those licenses.
Second, ride-hailing services have fostered congestion across the city. It seems a bit counterintuitive as some Uber users have given up on their personal cars to switch to Uber. But Uber also replaces a lot of other transportation methods, such as subways, buses, bikes, etc.
In addition to that usage pattern switch, many drivers are still driving around New York City, waiting for the next ride. Those idle cars clog the streets.
Third, there are also economical reasons for this change. Uber is a marketplace that matches drivers with riders. The company is leveraging the fact that rules aren’t as strict for ride-hailing drivers as for taxi drivers. This way, Uber can accept a ton of drivers even though demand doesn’t necessarily match. Uber can then leverage this market imbalance to drive down wages.
As part of the vote, New York City has also agreed on a minimum wage for ride-hailing drivers. Eventually, it could lead to an increase in price for customers. But so many customers have turned their back on public transportation that it is now generating too many issues when it comes to infrastructure investments and traffic congesting.
It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. You can’t expect a better subway system if nobody is interested in taking the subway anymore. And you can’t expect customers to rely on the subway if there hasn’t been enough investment to make it reliable.