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Bitter Battle Underway As Council Nears Vote To Limit Number Of Uber, Lyft Cars

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A vote that would cap the number of ride share cars in the city happens this week, but Uber and Lyft have spent thousands to try to stop it.

Ride share companies are doing everything in their power to keep Manhattan streets open to their cars, and through commercials and social media they're asking customers to help, reports CBS2's Clark Fouraker.

"We'd like a little more time to sit down and talk to the council about this, because this whole process is moving so fast," said Joseph Okpaku, vice-president of public policy for Lyft, noting that customers have sent thousands of emails to the city council.

If passed, New York would be one of the first cities to cap the number of ride-hail vehicles by freezing new licenses for 12 months.

Instead of a car cap, companies like Lyft and Uber want comprehensive congestion pricing that applies to not only ride share cars, but also public transit and personal cars.

Such a move would requires state approval.

"The more Ubers, the more Lyfts, it's better for the consumer," said Germain Kelly, an Uber rider. "It should be less expensive because you have more rides to choose from. I think it's going to hurt the consumer if this legislation were to pass."

"If the demand is there, people are going to need to go places," Andrew Holtzberger, a Lyft rider. "I feel like there's going to be traffic either way."

The debate over the cap stems from how to solve increasing congestion in the city. The city says a study shows 42 percent of the time, the ride share cars are empty.

But ride share companies say a cap will force even more cars to come to Manhattan, creating an absence of rides in the outer boroughs.

"There is no reason beyond corporate greed why there would not be a cap on the number of vehicles," said New York Taxi Workers Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai.

On Monday, a gathering of Uber and Lyft drivers rallied in support of the cap and the New York City Council's pledge to ensure a livable wage.

"Our data shows (drivers) are making about $17 per hour after expenses," said Okpaku.

Ride share companies want more time to discuss how to handle saturation, but the city council says they'll still plan to vote Wednesday.

The taxi and limousine commission says there are about 130,000 ride share cars on the road.

The cap, if approved, would not let companies re-hire if a driver quits.

They say their attrition rate is about 25 percent.


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