(TNS) — The New York City Council approved a package of bills on Wednesday aimed at reining in the for-hire vehicle industry that has grown exponentially in recent years.
The City Council’s newly-formed committee on the industry developed the bills over the last few months, but legislation received support from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in late July, about a week and a half before the full council vote.
The regulatory package comes during a contentious time for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, as elected officials grapple with increasing congestion on city streets that has made it harder for drivers across all sectors to earn a decent living. In May, taxi and livery drivers rallied on the steps of City Hall in favor of tighter regulations on app-based services after five licensed taxi drivers took their own lives in the course of five months.
Uber and Lyft expressed support for some of the bills but were strongly opposed to a 12-month cap on new for-hire vehicle licenses, arguing it will take away a viable transportation resource for New Yorkers, especially in the outer boroughs.
Here’s what you need to know about the package of bills passed by the City Council:
The issuance of new for-hire vehicle licenses will be suspended while the Taxi and Limousine Commission conducts a yearlong study examining the growing industry's impacts on the city. Licenses for wheelchair accessible vehicles will continue to be issued during the study and there is a provision in the bill that allows the TLC to reinstitute license issuance at any time as long as it won’t increase congestion. The study will analyze income, traffic congestion and how often drivers’ cars are in use. E-hail companies also will be required to hand over trip data to the TLC.
Companies serving more than 10,000 trips a day are required to acquire a new license, the cost of which will be determined by the TLC. The license will be valid for two years and an applicant will be required to submit an environmental review as well as a business plan that demonstrates a need to operate in the area.
The TLC will be required to create a minimum pay standard for drivers. The TLC also will study whether it should set a minimum fare standard and gives the commission the authority to apply such a standard if deemed necessary.
In an effort to increase availability, drivers with a wheelchair accessible car or taxi will not be subject to licensing fees.
The cost of fines against livery drivers caught picking up street hails in any hail-exclusionary zone will be rolled back to 2016 levels. Fines will range from $250 to $350 for a first offense, $350 and higher for a second offense, and revocation of a for-hire vehicle license for a third offense.
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