The Bill de Blasio administration has agreed not to impose a proposed cap on the growth of for-hire vehicle companies like Uber and Lyft, the New York Times first reported and BuzzFeed News has confirmed. The cap was originally proposed as a temporary measure while the city examines the impact of companies such as Uber and Lyft on congestion. Instead, according to the Times report, the city will allow ride-hail companies to operate while it conducts a four-month traffic study.
"Specifically, the City will move forward with a traffic study, to conclude at the end of November, to examine the impact of Uber and the for-hire vehicle industry on traffic congestion on New York City streets," Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris wrote in a statement. "Uber will share information for the study above and beyond what has previously been provided, with safeguards to protect privacy."
The announcement comes just a day before the New York City Council was expected to vote on the proposed freeze on growth, and weeks into heated opposition campaign from Uber that included advertisements, a social media push, and splashy in-app anti–de Blasio messaging.
Josh Mohrer, Uber's New York general manager, also confirmed the agreement in a statement and said: "We're pleased to have reached an agreement with Mayor de Blasio's administration and the City Council to collaborate on a joint transportation study and to work together on ways to continue expanding economic opportunity, mobility and transportation access in the city. We are pleased new drivers will continue to be free to join the for-hire industry and partner with Uber. Together, we can build an even better, more reliable transportation system. This is great news for all New Yorkers, including Uber riders and drivers."
A source familiar with the matter told BuzzFeed News that the agreement is similar to one the city offered Uber last week. The company rejected the terms of that initial agreement because a cap was still on the table but asked the city for a meeting last night. Under the agreement, the city reserves the right to impose a cap on growth if the four-month study it conducts deems it necessary. Uber, in turn, will have to ensure the rate of growth over the next few months remains consistent with the last few, provide more data to the city on trip records and vehicle activity, and set up a joint process with the city to determine rules that regulate contributions to the MTA, access to people with disabilities, and workers' rights. This joint process will also encompass the taxi sector of the industry, according to the source.
As a result of the new agreement, Uber will be pulling the many anti–de Blasio online and TV ads as well as its less-than-affectionate in-app de Blasio feature.
Neither Uber nor Lyft have opposed the idea of a study in general — and in fact Lyft representatives have said the company supports such a study, as long as it is neutrally engineered and considers all sources of congestion in the city. Such a study could serve to prove the ride-hail industry's long-held argument that its products help the environment and traffic by maximizing efficiency, making car ownership less necessary, and encouraging carpooling.
We will update as we learn more.
Updated with comment from Uber and additional details.