Although the Tri-State Transportation Campaign rarely weighs in on issues relating to taxis and livery cars, the debate taking place in New York City regarding a cap on for-hire vehicles has grown to include topics well within the scope of Mobilizing the Region.
Medallion owners, donation-hungry pols, tabloid writers, & a tech co valued in the billions. Seems like a great recipe for nuanced debate.
— Brooklyn Spoke (@BrooklynSpoke) July 21, 2015
For-hire vehicle traffic has grown dramatically in New York City, with 25,000 new for-hire vehicles added since 2011. With approximately 19,000 vehicles, Uber is by far the largest car-hailing service in New York City, and it’s growing (Uber-affiliated cars now outnumber traditional taxis). A City Council bill would limit new for-hire vehicle licenses to a growth rate of one percent for at least a year while the City studies the impact for-hire vehicle traffic is having.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) July 19, 2015
Uber has responded to the proposal with “an all-out attack” including a “de Blasio” feature within the app itself and a suggestion from the company’s New York General Manager that perhaps bike lanes, not the company’s thousands of vehicles, are responsible for increased congestion in the city.
— Jeff Speck (@JeffSpeckAICP) July 21, 2015
E-hail and ride-share services like Uber, Gett and Lyft play an important role in helping people get around without having to own a car, especially in places not well-served by transit or yellow cabs. And even Mayor de Blasio agrees that Uber “is helping provide more and better service.” But the upside of having more on-demand car service at our disposal comes with the downside of increased congestion.
— Josh Mohrer (@joshmohrer) July 18, 2015
But congestion isn’t exactly a new problem in New York City. Could restricting the growth of Uber help curb congestion? Maybe. But one thing is for sure: we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the city had tackled congestion in earnest back when “uber” was just a word pretentious Anglophones used in place of “very.” Here are a few ideas to ponder in the (short) time before the City Council votes on whether to place a cap on Uber’s growth:
— Douglas Watters (@douglaswatters) July 20, 2015
There’s nary a better idea that’s been presented to date which would address congestion in Manhattan’s central business district while simultaneously raising sorely-needed funding for transit. The Move NY plan, which would implement tolls on the (now free) East River bridges and charge drivers who travel south of 60th Street, is getting more and more support as elected officials realize this is the most comprehensive plan to reduce congestion in Manhattan.
Residential Parking Permits
See all those privately owned cars parked on NYC streets not moving 95% except for alt-side street cleaning? Those are worse than Uber.
— Aaron Naparstek (@Naparstek) July 20, 2015
New York is one of the only major American cities that doesn’t have a residential parking permit program. Real estate is some of the most expensive in the nation, yet you can store a vehicle absolutely free of cost on the streets of New York City. In San Francisco, another crowded, expensive city, residents pay $111 a year for parking permits. Drivers in New York, one study found, would be willing to pay more than three times as much if it meant finding a space would be easier. A parking permit program wouldn’t just free up curbside space; drivers who are looking for a parking spot account for 28 to 45 percent of traffic in areas where on-street parking is under-priced.
— Nicole Gelinas (@nicolegelinas) July 9, 2015
The MTA’s struggles are hardly news anymore, but you know things are getting bad when the head of the pro-transit General Contractors Association of New York trades her subway commute for Uber. Perhaps e-hail and ride-share services wouldn’t be so popular if the MTA was better funded, and if there was more political will to move beyond bus lanes and transform the city’s streets into transit corridors. The last word goes to the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas:
If the city’s rail, bus and subway systems keep deteriorating, more people will opt for a car.
If the mayor doesn’t want people riding around in air-conditioned black-SUV splendor, he and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have to think hard about subways. (It’s good for New York City that the two men work so well together.)
And buses, too — Manhattan should have more traffic lanes for buses that carry way more people than cars, with strict enforcement.