On Tuesday night, the New York Metropolis Council launched a invoice to place a temporary cap on the variety of for-hire autos — the sort supplied by providers like Uber and Lyft — allowed on town’s streets.
It’s about time: Lately these vehicles have flooded New York, clogging our streets and driving down fares and with them, revenue for tens of 1000’s of drivers. Skilled drivers, greater than 90 % of whom are immigrants of coloration, as soon as earned a middle-class residing however now face eviction, chapter and even starvation. Within the final 12 months six of them have dedicated suicide.
There isn’t a doubt that New Yorkers profit from for-hire autos, particularly these in components of town, like my district in southeastern Queens, the place common taxis are few. The cap will enable town time to review what number of vehicles we actually want to fulfill client demand whereas sustaining full-time driver incomes.
It’s crucial for New York to control minimal fare charges — the one supply of revenue for drivers — throughout the taxi and app-dispatch sectors, so no employee will get left behind. The invoice provides the Taxi and Limousine Fee that authority. It might additionally enable the Fee tackle incomes for app-based drivers, 85 % of whom now make under minimal wage.
App corporations now cost passengers a flat price — however pay drivers primarily based on a special, normally decrease price of fare — and pocket the distinction. Typically that fare is increased than yellow cab fares, however different instances app corporations subsidize fares, working at a loss to outcompete yellow taxis, and additional lowering incomes for drivers in each sectors.
App drivers and people working within the conventional yellow cab trade are largely one and the identical. Drivers shuttle between the sectors as they battle to earn a residing, and our options should tackle the disaster for all drivers.
For a lot of New Yorkers, particularly immigrants, driving is among the few viable methods to make a residing. These drivers come from 167 nations on the planet and converse a whole lot of languages. That’s why it’s particularly essential that the council act: A standard pathway to financial safety, one which sustains this nice metropolis of immigrants, is being choked off.
Predictably, corporations like Uber and Lyft have argued that the invoice will really damage these communities by lowering the supply of for-hire vehicles in immigrant neighborhoods which can be poorly served by conventional taxis and public transportation.
However those that dwell within the outer boroughs needn’t concern: There are already 98,000 vehicles accessible to us — 80,000 app-dispatched autos, 4,000 inexperienced cabs (or boro taxis, which may choose up avenue hails solely exterior the decrease a part of Manhattan) and 14,000 radio-dispatched livery vehicles.
It’s true that app-dispatch know-how could have helped to scale back race-based refusals, which have longed plagued black passengers in New York Metropolis and all through the nation. However that know-how doesn’t have to come back with Uber’s enterprise mannequin of employee exploitation or with the destruction of middle-class jobs for immigrants.
Whereas the council works towards financial equity within the trade, it would proceed to arrange to cease discrimination by drivers. On Tuesday, it created the Office of Inclusion on the Taxi and Limousine Fee, which can look at accusations of bias by drivers.
The council will not be alone: The New York Taxi Staff Alliance, which represents each app-dispatched and yellow cab drivers, has additionally lengthy sought to handle problems with racial bias in its trade, each towards its members and towards passengers.
Racism towards blacks is commonly one of many first issues that immigrants be taught once they arrive in America, so it’s no shock that many for-hire drivers exhibit bias towards black passengers. To fight that, the alliance has a proposal, which I hope the Metropolis Council will take up subsequent, to require all licensed for-hire and yellow-cab drivers to take part in civil rights and racial justice coaching. The alliance additionally proposes an initiative to recruit African-People, who’re sorely underrepresented within the trade.
Different components of the alliance’s racial justice initiative embody organising extra taxi stands in central Manhattan and at subway stations, since race-based refusals are a lot much less possible when rides are hailed from dispatcher staffed taxi stands.
My district in Queens is house to one of many largest contingents of for-hire and yellow cab drivers within the metropolis. I’ve listened to their considerations for years, in addition to their calls for for motion by the Metropolis Council to control the speedy inflow of for-hire vehicles.
As they are going to let you know, financial and racial justice should go hand in hand. The laws to control the app-dispatch sector will assist us to attain each.
Adrienne Adams represents District 28 on the New York Metropolis Council.