NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed with Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday night about setting a cap on ride-sharing vehicles operating in the city.
It’s a issue that has been debated for years: From late arrivals to overcrowding on trains, take a ride on any subway and there is a long list of complaints heard from commuters.
Cuomo said that will soon change. He has promised $254 million in help for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will partially be funded by congestion pricing.
“Congestion pricing starts with for-hire vehicles,” Cuomo said. “A surcharge that raises roughly $400 million a year that would go to the MTA.”
Cuomo spoke about the plan for the first time Monday night, just days after lawmakers passed a $168 billion state budget that includes surcharges on taxi, Uber and Lyft rides in Manhattan.
“I pushed as hard as I could push. This was a major, major achievement,” the governor said. “(We) got something done they have been trying to do for 30 years.”
There will be a “congestion tax” of $2.75 on for-hire vehicles like Uber and Lyft below 96th Street in Manhattan and a $2 increase to an already 50 cent fee for yellow cabs. The revenue will go to the MTA.
Both Uber and Lyft say they support the plan to fund mass transit, but the ride-sharing services say the changes shouldn’t end there. The companies are pushing for a congestion plan that applies to all vehicles, including commercial and personal drivers.
Lyft issued this statement on the proposed plan:
“Lyft is committed to helping solve the complex challenges facing the New York transportation ecosystem, which is why we have been supportive of the congestion pricing proposal as outlined in the FixNYC plan. There are many proposed solutions on the table, but we believe it’s important to first see how the surcharges outlined in the state budget impact New York’s transportation landscape. It’s critical that any measure taken provides the best earning opportunities for those who want to drive with Lyft, while ensuring that the the transportation options city-wide remain reliable, convenient, and affordable.”
Yellow cab drivers don’t feel the same, saying congestion pricing falls on drivers’ backs and is an attack on a workforce in crisis. They say yellow cab drivers are facing bankruptcies and homelessness at an unprecedented rate.
“That’s wrong,” one driver said. “It’s gonna hurt the working class and the driver.”
The difficulties faced by such drivers are why de Blasio says he’s revisiting the idea of capping the number of for-hire vehicles. There are currently a little over 13,000 yellow taxi medallions in the city, but more than 50,000 Uber and Lyft cars. He pushed for a cap in 2015 on “Uber and similar services,” but said he wasn’t supported by the City Council, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Tuesday.
“We tried to do something years ago that I thought made sense,” the mayor said.
De Blasio and Cuomo may actually agree after the governor said Monday night at a New York Daily News editorial meeting that he’s open to the mayor’s suggestion.
Yellow cab drivers are on board with the idea as well, because they figure with taxi medallions being limited, so should ride-sharing services.
“We expect that Uber also needs to have a limited amount, like 5,000, 10,000, 15,000,” one driver said.
Riders seem to think restricting for-hire vehicles is bad for competition and their pockets.
“No, the more options you have to move around at the city the better,” Uber rider Reggie Vangundee told CBS2’s Duddridge. “This is a big city. People need to flow around freely.”
“Make the yellow cabs more competitive,” Uber rider Danielle Sichuk added. “Make them drop their prices. Make them go to Jersey and then they’ll get more business.”