Taxi drivers protest halt of Uber cap in New York City; Cuomo says service will go state-wide

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Stacey Sager reports from City Hall (WABC)

The union representing New York City taxi drivers is furious after the city struck a last-minute deal with Uber. And as Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at City Hall, the drivers even began to shout him down.

"Taxi drivers have been serving 1 million people before Uber stepped into this town," said Bhairavi Desai, of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. "And how do you just discount the rights of people so easily?"

The mayor had hinted at capping the number of drivers the taxi service could hire, and the City Council was set to approve that cap in a bill Thursday.

But then came a flurry of pro-Uber ads and celebrity tweets favoring Uber from Kate Upton to Ashton Kutcher. And Governor Andrew Cuomo weighed in as well.

"We've very rarely said to an industry we're going to cap your growth," he said.

De Blasio insisted the new deal, which includes a four-month study on Uber, is the best of both worlds.

"Obviously, Uber is going to have a substantial presence," he said. "But that doesn't mean Uber is going to go without any rules or regulations."

The latest numbers confirm that the presence of Uber on city streets is exploding, with 18,000 Uber cars now in the city versus only 13,500 yellow cabs. Bear in mind that yellow cabs are on the streets 24 hours a day, while Uber is not.

But the presence is so strong that Cuomo added on the radio that the Uber debate will go well beyond New York City.

"We are going to need a statewide regulatory framework for Uber," he said.

Cuomo said the for-hire service is in the process of expanding to areas including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Long Island, and all sides are now questioning what will be best for passengers in the end.

"If they are going to be operating statewide, I want to make sure we have a regulatory structure for insurance, taxes, vehicles, they want access to the airports," Cuomo said. "This would make them a statewide transportation network, and the consumer now needs representation. That's how we need to move."

De Blasio discussed the situation, referring to Uber as the "multibillion dollar corporation which is looking out for its own interests and its own profitability."

He said the city stood up to Uber and now it has to play by a set of government rules. A cap can still be implemented if Uber does not make good on its promises to the city.

"We have information that the industry will share with us that we never had before," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. "And at the end of that process, we'll see where we're at."

Related Topics:
trafficubertaxinew york city councilMayor Bill de BlasiolegislationNew York City
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