July 30–Pushing back against the City Council's effort to cap the number of Ubers on the road? There's an app for that — and it's Uber.
The ride-hailing company will launch an "app takeover," it told The News, meaning that anyone who opens the app to find a ride will first find a message about a City Council package of legislation that includes a year-long ban on issuing new for-hire vehicle licenses with an eye to eventually capping the number of them allowed in the city.
"Arriving now: Higher prices and increased wait times," reads the headline of the alert that users will see. "The New York City Council has put forth a series of bills that include various proposals. Some of the proposals are worthwhile, but others could make Uber more expensive and less reliable throughout the 5 boroughs — severely impacting New Yorkers who rely on Uber when public transit isn't an option."
The direct appeal to users is part of a massive opposition blitz the company launched late last week with television and social media ads. The City Council has argued Uber's messaging has been misleading — and in response, Uber's in-app appeal includes a "learn more" link that will allow users to click through and read the proposed bills themselves.
"Uber has launched an App takeover so New Yorkers can read the Council's bills for themselves," Danielle Filson, an Uber spokeswoman, said. "We believe New Yorkers will join us in supporting living wages for drivers and opposing a cap that will harm outer borough riders who have come to rely on Uber because of the unreliable, or non-existent subway."
Uber has argued that if new licenses are capped, drivers will focus on the most lucrative area — midtown Manhattan — defeating the Council's goals of reducing congestion and harming outerborough riders poorly served by yellow taxis.
It's the Council's second attempt to place limits on the number of vehicles on the streets working for companies like Uber, Lyft and Via; a similar push went down in flames in 2015. But since then, the city's yellow and livery cab industry has been thrown into chaos, with six drivers killing themselves amid financial distress as the value of medallions has plummeted due to the flood of app-based vehicles on the streets.
"The Council is proud of this package, which we believe will bring fairness to the industry, reduce congestion and help drivers. When riders see the bills, they'll see we aren't cutting any existing service and we have created a thoughtful proposal to address some of the major problems in the industry," Jennifer Fermino, a Council spokeswoman, said.
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