NYC Mayor Picks Fight With Uber That He Cannot Win

from the and-will-lose-big-time dept

NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio has apparently decided to pick a fight with Uber — a move that has already backfired and appears to be getting worse by the day. He’s been pushing a proposal, obviously put together in support of legacy taxicab owners, that would limit the number of such car-hailing drivers allowed in the city. Basically, it would take the ridiculous taxi medallion system and apply it to these new services, limiting supply, keeping prices high and not serving the public very well at all. Uber responded forcefully last week by adding an amusing “de Blasio” feature to its service, showing riders how much longer they’d have to wait for a car if the plan moves forward.

The story is getting more and more attention, and it’s becoming clear that this has become personal for de Blasio, for reasons that are unclear. He can’t win this fight and it’s only making him look worse and worse. Not only that, but he is apparently threatening other “business” groups to “stay out” of the fight, threatening retaliation if they didn’t stay away:

Mayor de Blasio bullied business groups to stay out of the Uber debate in the weeks leading up to the City Council vote this week on controversial bills to curtail new licenses for e-hail cars.

Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris called Partnership for New York City?s Kathy Wylde and the Association for a Better New York?s Bill Rudin to alert them to the bills ? and to threaten them to stay on the sidelines, sources said.

?Their message is, ?This isn?t your fight. Stay out of this and we?re not going to bother you,??? said a political source familiar with the outreach. The implication was that if the groups defied the mayor, City Hall would ?limit your business opportunities,? he said.

Meanwhile, it appears that the out of touch de Blasio and his staff have absolutely no clue how widely Uber is used and how popular it is, insisting that it’s just a small group of tech elites who use the service:

City Hall doesn?t buy the notion that Uber is growing fast enough for a cap to disrupt the service…. And the mayor?s circle also doesn?t believe that Uber is broadly popular, or represents anything most New Yorkers care about.

?It?s a boutique side issue,? said a top City Hall ally. ?There?s a small set of excited tech people who are reading Mashable and might think the mayor isn?t innovative enough.?

How can one be mayor of New York City and not realize that how people get around the city is a major issue to the public, and that Uber is increasingly one of the preferred ways of getting around. Furthermore, it appears that de Blasio’s people are misreading their own data to argue that this cap on drivers makes sense.

And, of course, it’s not just the riders that should concern de Blasio, but the many people now making a living as drivers for these various services.

When running for mayor, de Blasio got strong support from the taxi drivers — and many are seeing this as his repayment of that debt. But, going against what the public wants — especially when it comes to helping get people around more efficiently — seems like a huge miscalculation on the part of de Blasio. Even for people who think that Uber’s practices are problematic (and this move impacts all the other companies in the space as well…), it’s hard to see de Blasio’s move as anything but trying to raise prices and limit options for the public for no good reason at all.

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Companies: lyft, uber

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Comments on “NYC Mayor Picks Fight With Uber That He Cannot Win”

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29 Comments
David says:

Re: Re:

You are overlooking the third option. The mayor honestly considers Uber irrelevant. But he is not letting personal opinions keep him from delivering the job he is bribed for. The next election campaign wants to be financed as well, and why should people with a vested interest pay for a candidate acting on his own judgment?

NYC Resident says:

Do you not get it?

The reason the medallion system exists is to limit the amount of cars in Manhattan during business hours. The city cannot handle the traffic a bunch of Uber drivers cruising for fares will generate. Don’t see how this will help when your Uber driver is stuck in traffic for an hour trying to pick you up when the UN General Assembly is in town. Until someone manages to buy legislation to put congestion fee into effect, all Uber is doing is contributing to a huge problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do you not get it?

The city cannot handle the traffic a bunch of Uber drivers cruising for fares will generate.

You are spreading false Information, as Uber/Lyft drivers are not allowed to cruise to look for fares, but can only go to pick up people who book their service. Therefore they park up if they do not have a booking.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Do you not get it?

The reason the medallion system exists is to limit the amount of cars in Manhattan during business hours.

That’s the official reason given. But studies for years have shown that it’s bullshit and that you could increase the number of cabs in the city, which would decrease costs and increase the ability to get around and the city never budged. It became clear that the medallion system was about keeping competition limited.

The city cannot handle the traffic a bunch of Uber drivers cruising for fares will generate.

And yet… it has. After years of no increase in medallions, with current medallion owners claiming any increase would kill traffic flow in NYC, Uber showed up, added thousands of cars… and there was no serious issue.

Don’t see how this will help when your Uber driver is stuck in traffic for an hour trying to pick you up when the UN General Assembly is in town.

I see you’ve bought into the propaganda.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Do you not get it?

How many of those “new” uber cars are actually new though? I thought that they were specifically hiring drivers who ALREADY had livery licenses. They aren’t adding thousands of cars (or jobs as their PR campaign is now blasting), they’re just adding existing drivers to their service.

Personally I hate both sides of this argument. I think as a city we need to decide that cabs Are not the answer and instead focus on getting out asshat of a governor to stop stealing from public transit.

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

City Hall doesn’t buy the notion that Uber is growing fast enough for a cap to disrupt the service…. And the mayor’s circle also doesn’t believe that Uber is broadly popular, or represents anything most New Yorkers care about

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. His argument appears to be, “Pass this because it won’t actually affect anyone in any way.” He’d probably be better off with, “Pass this to make sure my cut of the money that New York cabbies are practically stealing from you.”

A corrupt politician is one thing, but I draw the line at stupid.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, I have for a couple computer shows, and “too many cabs” is not on my list of complaints… at all. Over three days of the show, we managed to get a cab once. Would have appreciated Uber had I known about it at the time.

What was at the top of my list of complaints? The $50 hamburger at the hotel restaurant. Good thing we had fans of ours at the computer show take us out to dinner after that first day. That was interesting in itself. This fan had a ratchet on the nut holding his steering wheel in the car, and he would take the wheel with him inside when not in the car. We went into some part of the city for dinner, triple parked in front of a hydrant, went down a filthy alley, knocked on an unmarked door on some building, and there was the nicest Chinese restraunt I’ve ever eaten at. Seriously, I don’t know how people learn of these places, but the food was out of this world, and cheap!

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