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NYC votes to cap Uber, Lyft licenses

by Justin King

The city will not issue new for-hire vehicle licenses for 12 months while it studies the industry.

The New York City Council has voted to place limits on the number of for-hire vehicle licenses, effectively capping the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles that can operate in the five boroughs.

Officials have decided to halt the issuance of new licenses for at least 12 months while the city closely studies the industry's impact. The measure has provided a few exemptions, permitting new licenses for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Another bill that passed the council vote will set a $15 minimum wage for drivers, addressing the apparent pay gap between Uber drivers and traditional taxi drivers in the city.

New York City has long imposed an artificial cap on the number of taxis that operate throughout the city. Each must have a limited-issue medallion, which have dropped in value since Uber and Lyft came to town.

Proponents of the bills argue that more regulation is needed to ensure drivers are being paid a fair wage and city streets do not become congested with traffic from excess ride-hailing vehicles. Uber and Lyft have countered that the cap will negatively affect residents in low-income areas that have been ignored by yellow cabs in the past.

"The City's 12-month pause on new vehicle licenses will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion," Uber said in a statement.

The bills now head to Mayor Bill de Blasio for final approval.