IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Ride-Share Drivers Rush to Beat NYC Permitting Deadline

The Taxi and Limousine Commission received more than 9,600 applications for new electric ride-share plates before a court-ordered pause. Rideshare drivers rushed to put money down on new EVs last week in an effort to get a much-desired plate.

Two dozen Uber and Lyft drivers lined up at a Tesla dealership in Brooklyn Thursday, hoping to get a new car ahead of a court-mandated pause on new plates for electric ride-share cars.
Evan Simko-Bednarski/TNS
(TNS) — The Taxi and Limousine Commission received more than 9,600 applications for new, electric ride-share plates before a court-ordered pause on Monday, the Daily News has learned.

That number could climb even higher as applications continue to be processed, a TLC source told The News.

Drivers rushed to put money down on new electric vehicles last week in an effort to get a much-desired TLC plate ahead of a Monday deadline. By law, the drivers need TLC plates to accept app-based hails.

The applications for electric vehicle plates would be on top of about 78,000 cars are now authorized to drive for Uber and Lyft in the city. That number had been loosely capped since 2018, the result of a pause initiated by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council.

The cap was lifted in October when Mayor Adams and TLC Chair David Do announced that the TLC would issue a new plate to any eligible driver with an electric vehicle — part of Adams’ plan to make the city’s ride-share fleet 100% electric or wheelchair accessible by 2030.

The cap was temporarily reestablished by court order on Monday, following a suit by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge J. Machelle Sweeting ordered the city to stop accepting applications on that day, pending her ruling in the case.

But under Sweeting’s order, applications filed before Monday can be granted.

Prior to the lifting of the cap, roughly 2,200 of the city’s authorized ride-share vehicles were electric — less than 3% of the fleet.

Should all 9,600 new applications be approved by the TLC — a process expected to take months — the total 11,800 electric cars would make up 13.5% of a ride-share fleet totaling 89,800 vehicles.

Opponents of the city’s decision to lift the cap say the plan would hurt drivers’ incomes by flooding the streets with new ride-share cars.

The rapid growth also could put pressure on the city’s nascent car-charging infrastructure. By the time the electric for-hire fleet hits 21,000 cars — less than twice the total of current applications and existing electric vehicles — researchers with the US Department of Energy estimate that the city will need more than 1,000 direct-current “fast chargers.”

Only 187 direct-current chargers are now available for electric vehicles.

City Council members Amanda Farias (D, Bronx) and Selvena Brooks-Powers (D, Queens) called Wednesday for the city to reassess the lifting of the cap.

“[W]e have grave concerns regarding the categorical and seemingly haphazard lifting of the [ TLC plate] cap,” Transportation Committee chair Brooks-Powers and Economic Development Committee chair Farias wrote in a joint letter.

The pair said they worried “large corporations” would “flood our city” with thousands of vehicles, worsening congestion and driving down driver pay.

“These are the very reasons the original license moratorium went into effect in 2018,” they wrote.

A TLC spokesperson did not immediately respond to the council members’ letter.

The agency has repeatedly said about 90% of new plate applications are coming from individuals.

Do, the TLC head, has repeatedly pitched the new EV plates as a way for drivers who currently rent TLC-plated cars — many at rates as high as $400 to $600 a week — to own their own vehicle.

©2023 New York Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.