Uber’s Political Victory in New York, by the Numbers

The ride-hailing app faced off against the city’s mayor and won

De Blasio Administration to Drop Uber Cap Plan: NYT

Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick has said he wants to refashion the car-booking company into a sort of politician to fight against the taxicab industry. Kalanick should get the confetti ready because Uber just won perhaps its biggest campaign yet. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio backed down on a plan to stall the growth of Uber and similar ride-hailing apps.

Buried within the mounds of tweets, retweets, newspaper editorials, insulting app “features,” television commercials and press releases, a lot of stats have been thrown around by both camps in the hopes of swaying New Yorkers. Here are eight of the most cited numbers that helped shape the debate, and eventually tilted the campaign in Uber’s favor.

13,637 taxis

This is the number of taxicab licenses, known as medallions, that are in circulation in New York. Unlike with Uber cars, yellow cabs can pick up pedestrians using their old-fashioned hands to hail on the streets. Because the medallion supply is limited, they fetch high prices. Winning bidders for a batch of medallions sold in 2014 paid as much as $965,000.

19,000 Uber cars

The number of vehicles on Uber’s system in New York has surpassed taxis, according to company data. While Uber drivers can use their own cars and aren’t required to purchase pricey medallions, they still must register with the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, the same group that handles licenses for cab drivers. The commission, which also regulates private black car services, says it has more than 50,000 vehicles and about 100,000 drivers registered.

1 percent growth limit

The de Blasio-backed proposal, which drew the ire of Governor Andrew Cuomo and model Kate Upton, would have capped Uber’s growth at 1 percent a year. Uber says the number of vehicles on its system is expanding at about 3 percent a month. The company claims the limit would have doubled or tripled wait times for passengers.

100,000 new Uber riders a month

The company says it needs to keep adding drivers at a fast pace because its customer base is also expanding quickly. Uber says the bill would have allowed it to add 16 new drivers a month, which wouldn’t be nearly enough to accommodate 100,000 new riders.

22 bankrupt taxi companies

Nearly two dozen companies owning 46 medallions filed for bankruptcy in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Evgeny Freidman, sole manager of the companies, said in a court filing that banks are hesitant to lend to medallion companies due to concern about competition from Uber.

$500,000 in campaign donations

The traditional taxi and limousine industry gave de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign more than $500,000. The taxi industry also donated more than $150,000 to council members, including more than $8,500 to Ydanis Rodriguez, chairman of the Transportation Committee, who had committed to imposing the growth limits.

90 percent market share

There was a third candidate in this political campaign: Lyft, a much smaller ride-booking app. Diana Dellamere, public policy manager at the San Francisco startup, presented testimony to the New York City Council’s Transportation Committee on June 30, saying Uber controlled 90 percent of the market for car-booking apps in the city. Lyft's market share is 7 percent, and the company wouldn’t be able to catch up if the proposal were implemented, she said. “It would preserve and extend one company’s dominance while prohibiting others from offering a legitimately competitive service for consumers. Uber wins, while consumers, drivers, and competitors lose.”

$30 billion in annual wages

Employing a classic political tactic, Uber highlighted the importance of the technology industry to New York, suggesting de Blasio’s proposal was an attack on all tech workers. In a campaign organized partly by David Plouffe, a former strategist for President Obama who sits on Uber’s board of directors, Uber says tech in the city accounts for about 300,000 jobs and $30 billion in yearly wages. The company also says the proposed legislation could have caused the loss of 10,000 jobs—most of which are for Uber drivers, not employees of the company.

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