Don’t mess with Uber. That’s the lesson New York City mayor Bill de Blasio learned over the last week as he tried to build support for a cap on ride-sharing firm Uber’s fleet of vehicles.
Uber’s PR machine immediately cranked into high gear when Mayor de Blasio announced his plans to try and cap their fleet in the Big Apple. Uber undertook a large-scale publicity campaign to fight the proposal, and brought in A-list support from celebrities such as Kate Upton, Ashton Kutcher and Neil Patrick Harris. Then New York Governor Andrew Cuomo weighed in, commenting on a radio interview on Wednesday, “I don’t think government should be in the business of trying to restrict job growth,” he said in a radio interview.
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de Blasio never had a chance. It was David versus Goliath, and Goliath/Uber made it look easy.
Uber makes 11th hour agreement with NYC
The city and Uber came to an eleventh hour agreement. Apparently, instead of a cap, the Big Apple’s City Hall merely secured a commitment from Uber to not further ramp up its growth rate
The verbal deal commits Uber to come to the table to negotiate several issues its opponents have brought up, including handicap accessibility for its drivers’ cars and surcharges to support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority like other transportation-related firms.
As part of the deal, NYC will undertake a four-month study on the effect of Uber and other for-hire vehicle operators on the city’s traffic and environment.
de Blasio committed to not seek to cap the number of new vehicles Uber or any other car service can put on the road while the study is being performed. Mayoral administration officials noted that a cap on for-hire vehicles is still a possibility in the future.
Statement from city official
The city will now move ahead with the traffic study to be finished up by the end of November, according to a statement released by First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris. The study, Shorris explained, will “examine the impact of Uber and the for-hire vehicle industry on traffic congestion on New York City streets.”
“Uber has also agreed to maintain its approximate current rate of growth and not flood the streets with new licenses and vehicles,” the statement continued.
Statement from Uber
Uber’s New York City general manager Josh Mohrer also commented on the deal: “We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with Mayor de Blasio’s administration and the City Council to collaborate on a joint transportation study and to work together on ways to continue expanding economic opportunity, mobility and transportation access in the city.”
Statement New York Taxi Workers Alliance
Bhairavi Desai, the head of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group represents drivers (not an official union), said she did not even hear about the Uber deal until it was publicly announced by the mayor’s office on Wednesday afternoon.
Desai said the group was extremely disappointed with the one-sided compromise. “It’s also just a reminder of how much there’s corporate influence in politics,” she noted.