Cuomo Says De Blasio Plan to Curb Uber in New York City Should Be Delayed

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New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at an event to support his reelection on October 30, 2014 in New York City.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to limit the growth of ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. shouldn’t move forward without further discussion.

Cuomo said in a radio interview Wednesday that he’s planning to meet with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to press her to delay voting on the plan, which could happen as soon as Thursday. The proposal has pitted de Blasio, who is backed by the yellow-taxi industry, against Uber, which uses GPS to match riders and drivers through its mobile-phone apps.

The bill would restrict the growth of fleets with 500 or more cars to 1 percent while city officials study traffic congestion, a report that would be due April 30. While the limit would affect all for-hire ride services, including traditional black-car companies like Carmel and Dial 7, the biggest loser would be San Francisco-based Uber, which has grown to include 19,000 vehicles and is expanding about 3 percent a month.

The governor’s statements were the latest shot fired in a feud between the state’s top Democrats, which has featured off-and on-the-record sniping about topics from schools, general political acumen and now transportation.

Cuomo said Wednesday the Uber measure may not alleviate traffic clogs and could have statewide ramifications as Uber drivers leave the city for neighboring counties.

Like Wildfire

“Uber is one of these great inventions, startups, of this new economy and it’s taking off like fire to dry grass and it’s giving people jobs,” Cuomo said. “I don’t think the government should be in the business of restricting job growth.”

Wiley Norvell, a de Blasio spokesman, said the governor’s comments about drivers leaving the city were a distraction.

“The issues here are serious for our city -- protecting workers and passengers, fair service for people with disabilities, supporting public transit, addressing rising congestion,” Norvell said in an e-mailed statement.

In advertisements, Uber says that the proposed cap would double or triple wait times and cause the loss of 10,000 jobs. On Tuesday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer also called for the vote to be delayed.

The growth of Uber, which began operating its mobile app-based service in the city in 2011, is part of a boom in for-hire vehicles, which have ballooned 66 percent to 63,000 since 2011. City officials say that without regulation, the number could surge to 100,000 in five years.

The legislation is also the latest front in a battle between the traditional taxi and limousine industry, which gave de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign more than $500,000, and digital ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft Inc. The taxi industry also donated more than $150,000 to council members, including more than $27,000 this year to Mark-Viverito. Rodriguez received $8,500 in 2013.

Cuomo’s call for a delay pits him against de Blasio who said July 20 that he wants the council to vote “as quickly as possible.” The two have been publicly feuding since June 30, when de Blasio called reporters into his office to say he’s “disappointed” in the governor after Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to provide him with only a one-year extension for control of the city’s schools.

In related news, 22 companies owning 46 taxi medallions filed for bankruptcy in Brooklyn Wednesday, blaming, at least in part, Uber. 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, and that the fear is misplaced.

(Updates with comment from de Blasio spokesman in seventh paragraph.)
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