Uber is causing traffic jams again — at the TLC office!
The ride-sharing giant offered $500 rewards for new drivers to get their cars licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission before the city slammed the brakes on its vehicle numbers — leading to a flood of last-minute applications.
The TLC says it received a whopping 3,152 for-hire vehicle applications between Aug. 1 and Aug. 9 alone — 560 more than it did for the entire month of August last year.
The City Council passed the cap Wednesday, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign it into law this Tuesday — banning drivers for Uber, Lyft and its ilk from registering any new cars that aren’t wheelchair accessible for a year.
So Uber has been urging wannabe drivers to register their cars before the cut-off — sweetening the deal with a $500 bonus for those who got their applications in before the council’s vote.
Even after the incentive expired, lines were backed up for hours on Friday at the Long Island City building where both Uber and the TLC have offices.
“This is not a typical day. We have hundreds more people signing up today probably, more than we’ve ever had at this location,” said Stephanie Tkach, 29, manager of the Uber office, where drivers were getting letters of insurance they need for the registration.
“Workers have come from New Jersey and Connecticut and the other surrounding states to help out with the influx.”
The process normally takes a couple of days, but staffers were trying to cram it into a few hours, she said — and the office would be staying open well past its typical 5 p.m. closing time to get it done.
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“It’s been mayhem,” said aspiring driver Jose Cabrera, 34, of the Bronx.
He bought a car to start driving for Uber on Wednesday and had no idea the cap was happening until his father-in-law told him — and spent the rest of the week scrambling to get title and insurance so he can submit his TLC application.
“I don’t think it’s fair. It’s too soon,” he said. “A lot of people affected have paid their dues. A lot of people are looking forward to working for these companies and now they’re out of time.”
Fellow Bronx resident Lissette Collado has been driving for Uber for two months and was leasing a car while saving up for her own — but had to scramble to buy something because of the deadline.
“It’s really stressing people out. I need to be able to continue to work, and renting the car was costing me an extra $1,000 a month,” the 31-year-old said.
Some new cabbies’ hopes might be dashed if they bought their car in recent weeks and still haven’t received their title, however, because the TLC needs that to process the application.
“There are a lot of drivers who will be out of luck,” said Cira Angeles of drivers association Livery Base Owners.
Asked about the boom in applications Friday, Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said only: “When the City Council and the Mayor rushed a pause through, we wonder if they took into account the thousands of drivers trying to earn a living, without having to rent a vehicle from someone else.”