Drivers push back on congestion pricing

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (pictured with Council Member Carlina Rivera and State Senator Brad Hoylman) held a town hall on congestion pricing last Thursday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Manhattan elected officials argued strongly in favor of congestion pricing at a public hearing last Thursday, but car-owning residents in attendance felt differently about the plan.

“This congestion was caused by the city allowing Uber and Lyft to put hundreds of cars on the streets that were already congested without charging any revenue for the city,” said attendee Sheila Williams. “If they had at least done that, they could have increased revenue and decreased the cars on the street, but now you want all of us to pay for this debacle and it’s already decimated the yellow cab industry.”

Manhattanites got the opportunity to offer their thoughts on the plan at a public hearing hosted by Borough President Gale Brewer at Cooper Union last Thursday evening. Many of the few hundred residents in attendance identified themselves as car-owners and suggested that residents who live in the area shouldn’t be forced to pay a fee just based on where they live.

“I do think that people living in the zone should be exempted from congestion pricing,” Stuy Town resident Lynn Janofsky said. “The only reason I have a car is to drive out of the city. I only go up or down the FDR and don’t drive in the city because I’m too worried about killing somebody, with the bikes, Ubers, pedestrians and phones. I have zero faith in the mayor to think things through before implementing something. For all of us who live in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and our six garages, we should be exempt.”

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City puts cap on apps listing for-hire vehicles

Mayor Bill de Blasio, with 32BJ SEIU union members at Union Square, cheers the new legislation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined union advocates, taxi drivers and other local elected officials in Union Square last Thursday to celebrate the passage of legislation that puts a cap on the number of cars allowed through for-hire vehicle apps.

The cap is meant to address congestion and driver wages, as well as the weakening of the taxi industry, and won’t have any impact on the number of for-hire vehicles already on the road. The legislation additionally includes a new minimum compensation rule for drivers, and the one-year cap does not apply to wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

“The city is sending a clear message: we’re putting hard-working New Yorkers ahead of corporations,” de Blasio said. “The City Council has spoken boldly, and now we can act. We are taking immediate action for the benefit of more than 100,000 hard-working New Yorkers who deserve a fair wage, and halting the flood of new cars grinding our streets to a halt.”

The legislation, sponsored by Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin and which the mayor signed on Tuesday, will also initiate a study to comprehensively manage the industry in order to reduce congestion and protect workers by ensuring fair pay.

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