Thursday’s Headlines: Yellow Cab Crisis Edition


The big story yesterday was Mayor de Blasio extending the (still-being-litigated) cap on Uber and Lyft — and adding in new restrictions for empty cruising below 96th Street in Manhattan. We started with Julianne Cuba’s initial coverage, but will have more to say later on.

For now, here’s that and the other news:

  • The Daily News called the restrictions on Uber and Lyft “some of the world’s toughest.” The Post’s David Meyer focused on the City Council’s effort to take the lead. The Times looked at the mayor’s plan to give a small measure of relief to yellow cab drivers. The Wall Street Journal and amNY offered a broad overview.
  • Maya Rajamani at amNY did quick work of the Council hearing on Corey Johnson’s street safety “master plan” bill, focusing on what it might cost DOT to actually carry it out.
  • Gothamist took a good angle on the Tuesday night debate (covered by Streetsblog) over a protected bike lane on the Upper West Side, reflected in the headline, “DOT: It’s ‘Psychologically Unrealistic’ To Put Two-Way Bike Lane On Central Park West.”
  • Activists are often calling for the NYPD to write more “failure to yield” tickets. Turns out, they mostly get tossed. (City Limits)
  • And our suddenly glossy editor penned a piece for New York Magazine about the best folding bikes. Why? Because he wants to encourage more biking!
  • Ian Turner

    I once asked TLC to write a failure to yield ticket after a driver turned left across my path. They declined, saying that although the driver had entered my lane, he did eventually stop and I went in front of him, therefore there was no failure to yield.

    After that I would only make TLC failure to yield complaints if a driver did not stop at all.

  • Id say cities like Barcelona, which have a total ban on Uber, are a bit tougher

  • Wow, does Barcelona really have that? If only we could have done likewise. (Though I am sure that the archaic and inflexible American legal framework would have made such a commonsense move impossible.)

  • John Smith

    Banning Uber and Lyft isn’t “common sense.”

  • 6SJ7

    Consumers increasingly prefer Uber/Lyft over NYC’s generally awful yellow taxis.

  • In a city that already has too much car traffic, and that already has a large yellow cab fleet, a new green cab “boro taxi” service, as well as hundreds of livery services that are staffed by experienced professionals, barring Uber and Lyft certainly would constitute common sense.

    People once imagined that these car-share services would induce people to leave their cars at home or even to get rid of their cars, thereby leading to less car traffic. Alas, that has proven to be pure fantasy; the unfortunate reality is that the infestation of car-share services has only exacerbated an existing problem by putting far more cars onto our streets.

    We absolutely do not need these incompetent goofball hobbyists making our traffic problem worse.

  • Geck

    I was recently in Barcelona. I walked, took the subway, rented bikes (unfortunately their bike share is only for residents), and took an efficient and reasonably priced express airport shuttle bus. Uber and Lyft were not missed.

  • John Smith

    How about instituting congestion pricing and carbon taxation to reduce the quantity and size of vehicles on the road rather than arbitrarily banning firms from using public infrastructure?

  • We should be doing both of the things you mentioned (and doing the congestion pricing to a degree much greater than we are about to do).

    But that does not preclude banning Uber and Lyft. There is nothing arbitrary about a law that states that transporting passengers by car for pay can be done only by certain parties, namely, taxi medallion holders and licenced livery companies.

  • John Smith

    And to whose benefit and what end would we want to ban Uber and Lyft? They provide superior service to traditional cabs, as evidenced by their phenomenal growth even in the face of sometimes higher prices.

  • A ban on Uber and Lyft would benefit the community as a whole.

    These services dramatically increase driving (they therefore increase congestion, pollution, and injuries and deaths from collisions), and they lure people away from transit, biking, and walking.

    Uber and Lyft are huge net negatives in cities; and it’s not even close.

  • John Smith

    It makes more sense to internalize their costs (pollution, congestion, etc.) rather than ban them outright. Driving is, in some instances, the best choice for some people, and for hire vehicles make sense in some cases. As long as they’re paying their costs, we can integrate them into our transportation system and roads.

  • AMH

    I submitted a FTY complaint to the TLC after an SUV cut me off in a mixing zone on 1 Av (I had to make a very quick/hard left to avoid hitting it). I’m curious whether it will come to anything.

  • alvera

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  • Andrew

    On the contrary, taxis and TNC’s are useful for non-car owners for occasional trips for which transit alone doesn’t suffice – an occasional trip to a suburban area with no or inadequate bus service too far from the train station to walk, an occasional trip with heavy or bulky packages that can’t realistically be carried on transit, etc.

    They certainly make a mess of bike lanes, bus lanes, and the like, but that’s because the city hasn’t managed its curb space properly. There should be dedicated pick-up/drop-off spaces on each block, unless the price to park is raised high enough that there are inevitably vacant spaces on every block in any case. Once those are in place, drivers have no reasonable complaint against enforcement of existing parking laws.

    Individual drivers love to claim that it’s Uber’s fault, not theirs, that traffic congestion is bad. They’re wrong. Stop playing into their hands.

  • These services could provide something worthwhile to an area that does not already have taxis. But in a city that is extremely well served by taxis and livery cabs, these ride-share services simply add clutter.

    Even if we had all of the desirable street-use regulations that you describe, a load of extra cabs driven by goofball hobbyists, riding around empty most of the time, would still be a large net negative for our City.

  • Andrew

    Taxis and TNC’s provide similar functionality. If people find that TNC’s do it better than traditional taxis, then TNC’s will win the day. I don’t personally care one way or the other.

  • qrt145

    Ubers in NYC _are_ livery cabs. They are regulated by the TLC, have livery license plates, the driver has a livery cab driver license, and is affiliated to a livery base. The only difference is that the requesting and dispatching is done using the app instead of over telephone and radio.

  • Yes, but you know what I mean. I am referring to the mass of livery cabs that existed in our City before Uber and Lyft.

    The fact that those livery cabs are radio dispatched means that they are never riding around empty. A dispatcher coordinates the dropping off of one fare and the picking up of another by every car.

    Uber and Lyft have no such efficiency (contrary to the imaginings of early ride-share enthusiasts). Their cars spend a huge amount of time empty. This, combinef with the sheer quantity of these cars, results in ride-share services seriously exacerbating conditions of congestion, thus having a negative impact on New Yorkers’ quality of life.

  • qrt145

    What evidence do you have that old-fashioned radio dispatchers make more efficient use of their fleets than Uber or Lyft? I would love to see some data.

  • I am not sure that those data exist. This is simply the normal operating procedure of any livery cab company.

    It was certainly my experience when I briefly worked in the industry. The drivers who trained me said that dispatchers chart every car’s location, so as to assign the most most appropriate car to a new call. (This was long before GPS.)

    And if the dirtbag companies that I worked for could master this process, there’s no way that the better companies would be unable to do likewise. Nowadays dispatchers can know instantly where every one of their cars is; in my day we had to radio our position in.

    Meanwhile, the City has determined that ride-share cars are driving around with no passengers more than 40% of the time.


Today’s Headlines

Peralta and DenDekker Want to Loosen Camera Restrictions and Penalize Recidivist Speeders (News) Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Astoria Pedestrian (News, AMNY, NY1); Man Killed on Major Deegan (DNA) RPA: Shut the L Completely for Repairs and Make 14th Street a Busway (AMNY, DNA) DiNapoli Says MTA Is Fudging the Data on Subway Wait Times (2AS, Politico, AMNY) Full Council to Vote on Bills to Create […]