New Rules for Uber Drivers in New York City Limit Their Access to the App

Lyft drivers suffered a similar fate just a few months ago.

At some point in your life, you've most likely found yourself stranded in a quiet, taxi-less zone late at night. What do you do? Take your phone out, press the Uber app button, and summon a driver to your exact location. 

Easy and simple. But, that may now change if you live in New York City.

From Tuesday onwards, Uber will limit its drivers' access to its app in lull periods. The new changes follow upcoming rules and regulations in the Big Apple regarding an increase in the minimum wage for app-based driver services and for reducing congestion in traffic-congested parts of the city, like Manhattan. 

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What exactly will change for Uber?

The ridesharing company will lock its drivers out of the app during periods of slow demand. Another taxi-sharing company, Lyft, underwent the same changes just a few months ago in New York City. 

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The company has stood up against the change in rules, stating that drivers will end up earning less, and this change will exclude certain New Yorkers living in harder-to-reach areas, where taxis aren't readily available. 

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According to Reuters, Uber said, "Time and again we’ve seen Mayor (Bill) de Blasio’s TLC pass arbitrary and politically-driven rules that have unintended consequences for drivers and riders." 

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What do regular taxi companies have to say about this change? 

On Monday, Bill Heinzen, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) acting commissioner, voiced that he was all for the regulations. Keeping companies such as Uber and Lyft under control prevents them from oversaturating the market, usually to the detriment of drivers. 

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What do the new rules state?

First, they cap the number of app-based taxi drivers on the road and set a minimum wage for the 80,000-strong drivers, based on their time spent on the road with passengers. 

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Moreover, the rules also minimize the number of times drivers are allowed to lull, or cruise — times when drivers cruise the streets waiting for passengers to hail them on the app. 

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As of February next year, the amount of time allowed for cruising is to go down by 5 percent, and after that by 10 percent, which would be a big step down from the 41 percent of the time currently.

If drivers do not take heed to these changes, they may be fined, or even banned from operating in the city. 

The TLC note that this is mostly to reduce congestion in Manhattan, where one-third of traffic at peak hours are app-based taxi services. 

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