New York City approves rate hike for horse carriage drivers

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City is allowing horse carriages to raise their rates.

The Department of Consumer Affairs approved a $4.08 increase, allowing drivers to now charged $54.08 for the first 20 minutes. The rate for additional 10-minute periods rises from $20 bucks to $21.63.

City law guarantees cost-of-living increases for drivers, with the last increase coming in 2010.

"A few extra dollars means more carrots for the horses," driver Christina Hansen said. "Makes a difference in paying the rent and making a living at this. The price of everything goes up, so wages should go up to meet that."

But not everyone is applauding the move, which was part of a deal made during the Bloomberg administration. The raise was supposed to kick in every three years, but in 2013, while Mayor Bill de Blasio was going head to head with the industry in an attempt to ban the iconic carriages, everything was put on hold. The effort failed to get through the City Council.

Allie Taylor is executive director of the animal rights group NYCLAS.

"Do I think people who abuse animals deserve a raise? No, absolutely not," she said. "The bottom line is the mayor made a promise to get the horses of the streets, and he hasn't done it yet. If he's able to take action to give drivers a raise, certainly he can take action to protect the horses, limit them to Central Park, make sure they aren't walking in the middle of oncoming traffic."

But a spokesperson for de Blasio says no mayor has done more to protect horses, and that he is still passionate about getting the carriages off city streets. But he acknowledges there is no City Council support for a ban. And that is welcomed news to drivers.

"It's good to know the mayor is in compliance with the law," Hansen said.
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