Protect the Taxicabs! – NYC Mayor

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New York City is putting restrictions on ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft.

Lawmakers on Wednesday approved a proposal to freeze new licenses for car service drivers for one year, becoming the first large city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions. The city council also approved proposals to set minimum pay levels for all drivers and minimum fares, which are now regulated for traditional cabs but not their multitudes of new competitors.

Minimum fares and restrictions on who can be a driver sound a whole lot like the old medallion-based taxicab system, which was inefficient and expensive. What is the rationale behind the new restrictions?

Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Recent immigrants in NYC could drive a cab and make it into the middle class and make a better life for yourself and their family. That foothold in the American Dream is slipping away for thousands of drivers. We have a responsibility to act.”

I’d love to go back in time to 2002 and tell my recently-graduated self that in sixteen years there would be widespread sympathy for taxicabs resulting in further government protection.¬†Jeebus.

Uber, with dynamic pricing, is the natural evolution from a stiff, corrupt system that provided terrible, expensive service. Driverless ride-hailing will be the next step. In 2028, will the new mayor slap restrictions on robotaxis because of the loss of Uber driver jobs? I wish I could bet on that.

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