NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s been a dramatic move to reduce street congestion in Manhattan.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to limit the amount of time app-based cars can cruise empty.
It means you’ll have to pay more and wait longer.
With 120,000 for-hire vehicles licensed to drive in New York City, it really doesn’t take much to understand why the streets are so clogged. CBS2’s Marcia Kramer found them everywhere, sometimes three abreast and often empty, adding to congestion.
“The effect of this is going to increase traffic speeds in Manhattan,” said acting TLC Commissioner Bill Heinzen. “It’s good for everyone who is trying to get around Manhattan.”
The TLC estimates a traffic reduction of 28%. App cars now cruise empty 41% of the time. By next year, it has to be reduced to 31%.
The TLC says it can be accomplished by scheduling fewer cars, but there are lots of questions.
“Will this increase the cost of my ride?” Kramer asked Heinzen.
“It shouldn’t increase the cost of the ride,” he said.
Will customers be forced to play the waiting game?
“It may be that below 96th Street, wait times might increase slightly,” Heinzen said.
What about drivers?
“If they’re not allowed to cruise empty, where should they wait?” Kramer asked. “Will you have to create some kind of parking lot or waiting lot?”
“I don’t think we’re going to have to do that. It’s really the companies that have to manage the behavior. They have to put fewer vehicles out,” Heinzen said.
Can the TLC really enforce the new regulation?
“How do you actually know how many hours ‘car x’ spends below 96th Street?” Kramer asked.
“For the past five years, we’ve started collecting trip data,” Heinzen said. “If you’re a driver, I know what time you logged on to Uber, when you became available for a ride…. It’s actually easy for us to calculate cruising time.”
“No, I don’t think it’s going to be good. I think they need to do a little more research before they pu policies in place,” said driver Derrick Thompson of Brooklyn.
“It’s a good idea,” said driver Mohammad Rahman of Richmond Hill, Queens. “Because there’s too much traffic here in Midtown.”
“It eliminates drivers work,” a driver named Abdel told Kramer.
“Will you make less money?” Kramer asked.
“Yeah, I make less money, and you got to be struggling in the city,” he said.
The app companies will be fined $350 for each 100 miles over the cruising limit logged by each car. Officials says that could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
The TLC also extended the temporary cap on new for-hire vehicles for another year.