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Uber Gains Civil Rights Allies Against New York’s Proposed Freeze: ‘It’s a Racial Issue’

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As president of the New York City League, Arva Rice usually depends on ride-hailing apps similar to Uber and Lyft to achieve her dwelling in Harlem after late-night occasions.

“I’ve been handed up by yellow taxis on quite a few events,” defined Ms. Rice, who’s black. “While you stay in Harlem or Mattress-Stuy, getting house is more durable than it needs to be.”

Black and Latino New Yorkers — and those that stay within the boroughs exterior Manhattan — have lengthy mentioned they aren’t served properly by yellow taxis. Now, a proposal by the Metropolis Council to put a one-year freeze on for-hire car licenses is being opposed as a civil rights situation by organizations such because the Nationwide City League, the Nationwide Motion Community and the N.A.A.C.P.

“I’m attempting to get to work, I’m attempting to get to highschool — I need someone that’s going to select me up,” the Rev. Al Sharpton instructed an viewers on Saturday on the Harlem headquarters of his group, the Nationwide Motion Community.

“Some yellow cabs gained’t even go uptown or to components of Brooklyn,” Mr. Sharpton later mentioned in an interview. “In case you are downtown they gained’t cease.”

The package deal of proposed laws from the Council, which could possibly be voted on as quickly as Aug. eight, would cease new for-hire car licenses whereas the influence of their rising presence was studied. That would result in a cap on the variety of for-hire automobiles, which might be a primary for a serious American metropolis.

There are greater than 100,000 for-hire automobiles in New York Metropolis, up from 63,000 in 2015, based on the town. Greater than 80,000 of them are related to ride-hailing apps.

The rise has led to congestion on metropolis streets, based on a 2017 report, and contributed to the troubles of the yellow cab business. The worth of a yellow cab medallion — which is required to function a taxi — has fallen precipitously since 2014, when the town final held a medallion public sale. That 12 months, one was promoting for $900,000 to $1 million, based on knowledge from the Taxi and Limousine Fee. In June, costs ranged from $165,000 to $700,000.
There have additionally been six driver suicides in latest months, together with a person who fatally shot himself exterior Metropolis Corridor, after writing an extended put up on Fb in regards to the dire results of the competitors.

Different payments in entrance of the Council would set a minimal wage for drivers and authorize the taxi fee to review whether or not to set a minimal fare; create a brand new license for high-volume, for-hire car companies; and waive the licensing charge for wheelchair-accessible automobiles.

“I perceive the considerations about individuals of shade being denied service, however I wish to clarify that we’re not diminishing service,” Corey Johnson, the Metropolis Council speaker, mentioned. “The automobiles which are on the market now will stay on the market.”

He added: “We’re not saying Uber is unhealthy. They’ve met a big want. We’re saying the business must be regulated.”

Mr. Johnson mentioned the laws would enable automobiles to be added to particular neighborhoods if the taxi fee decided that entry to service was being damage through the yearlong research. Wheelchair-accessible automobiles is also added.

Bhairavi Desai, govt director of the New York Taxi Employees Alliance, which represents drivers of yellow cabs and for-hire automobiles, mentioned it was necessary to debate transportation within the context of civil rights.
“Race-based refusal is a critical situation amongst yellow taxis and within the Uber and Lyft world,” Ms. Desai mentioned. “However Uber and Lyft don’t have a provide downside, they’ve an effectivity downside.”

For-hire drivers within the metropolis, a lot of whom are nonwhite immigrants, are being damage as a result of the roads are oversaturated with automobiles, Ms. Desai mentioned. Journey-hailing automobiles and yellow taxis have been empty a 3rd of the time whereas in Manhattan’s central enterprise district, based on the 2017 report by Bruce Schaller, a former metropolis transportation official.

“Defending the oversaturation which has resulted within the deep poverty of a piece power made up of immigrants of shade isn’t a civil rights place, it’s the antithesis,” Ms. Desai mentioned.

That is the second time the town has sought to gradual the expansion of for-hire automobiles. Mayor Invoice de Blasio proposed a cap on for-hire automobiles in 2015 however the town backed down after Uber waged a public-relations marketing campaign. Mr. de Blasio voiced help on Friday for the newest proposal.

Uber has began a social media marketing campaign towards the proposed license freeze, and this 12 months created a web site that emphasizes the variety of journeys “in areas lengthy ignored by yellow taxis and the place entry to public transit is proscribed.”

“We’re rising quickest within the outer rings of the outer boroughs as a result of we’re serving communities which were ignored by yellow taxis and brought with no consideration by the M.T.A.,” mentioned Josh Gold, a spokesman for Uber, referring to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Uber statistics, he mentioned, present that ridership in neighborhoods similar to East New York in Brooklyn and Kingsbridge within the Bronx had greater than doubled since this time final 12 months.

Mr. Sharpton and Ms. Rice say their nonprofits have obtained donations from for-hire corporations similar to Uber and Lyft. The yellow taxi business has donated cash to the campaigns of Mr. de Blasio and members of the Metropolis Council, together with Rubén Díaz Sr., chairman of the Committee on For-Rent Automobiles.

Mr. Johnson, who was towards the 2015 push to cap the expansion of for-hire automobiles, now says the considerations are an excessive amount of to disregard.

“What’s modified is the extent of congestion, the explosive, unbridled development of for-hire automobiles and the variety of taxi drivers who’ve taken their lives,” Mr. Johnson mentioned. “I’m for us determining a sound public coverage answer.”

These assurances are usually not sufficient for individuals who oppose the plan.

“This doesn’t instantly take care of the historic and present downside of yellow cabs’ bias of servicing us in our neighborhood,” Mr. Sharpton mentioned.

The Rev. Dr. Johnnie M. Inexperienced Jr., the pastor of Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem and president of a statewide clergy group, mentioned he just lately had hassle getting a yellow taxi at La Guardia Airport to take him the place he needed after he had returned from Georgia.

“It’s a racial situation,” Mr. Inexperienced mentioned. “The those who champion the campaign towards Uber don’t have an issue hailing yellow cabs.”

Source: https://bylifetoday.com/2018/07/29/nyregion/uber-gains-civil-rights-allies-against-new-yorks-proposed-freeze-its-a-racial-issue/

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

Uber and Lyft Drivers in Chicago Will Hold Rally to Protest Abuse and Low Wages

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Uber and Lyft drivers in Chicago will rally at O’Hare airport Monday in protest of abuses they have faced from riders as well as the low wages they receive from their work, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Organizers with the group Chicago Rideshare Advocates are working to organize the thousands of drivers across the city to demand better pay and working conditions. Last week the group rallied outside City Hall with a banner that read, “Uber/Lyft Stop Abusing Workers/Cities.”

Mattia Nanfria, a 41-year-old ride-share driver who also organizes with Chicago Rideshare Advocates said she has been propositioned and attacked by riders. She said that after reporting having problems with some riders, Uber didn’t seem to do much to address the issue. “For all I know, they did nothing, which is a little disturbing,” she said.
To make matters worse, Nanfria said there are some weeks when she makes less than the city’s minimum $12 hourly wage. “The weeks where I’m clearing $10 to $12 an hour, that’s what I lose sleep over,” Nanfria told the Sun-Times.

Chicago city officials have considered following New York’s lead and putting a cap on the number of ride-share vehicles in the city, which has quadrupled to nearly 66,000 drivers in the last three years, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Chicago Rideshare Associates are on board with capping the number of drivers, along with increasing wages and drivers’ safety.

“Nobody wants to ban Uber and Lyft. Nobody wants that,” Eli Martin, a co-organizer of Chicago Rideshare Advocates told the Sun-Times. “We all like this, we just have to make it work better.”
Both Uber and Lyft oppose the proposal for a license cap.

The surge in ride-sharing services in Chicago has hurt business for cab and taxi drivers, while also worsening working conditions for Uber and Lyft drivers.

Earlier this year, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi suggested that New York City officials should impose a fee on ride-sharing apps to help taxi medallion owners facing financial burdens from the increase of ride-sharing services. But the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called the proposal “a slap in the face to struggling drivers and an attempt to get out of being regulated.”

Chicago officials have proposed raising the average wage for drivers, which is currently less than the minimum wage at $11.53 an hour after expenses.

The group will hold its rally at the O’Hare Transportation Network Providers’ parking lot from 7-10 p.m. on Monday.

Source: http://fortune.com/2018/09/16/uber-lyft-drivers-chicago-protest/

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

More Than 100 Cars Damaged in NYC Mall Parking Garage Inferno; Suspect Arrested: NYPD

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Police have arrested a man in connection to a seven-alarm inferno that tore through a multi-level parking garage at Brooklyn’s Kings Plaza Shopping Center Monday, enveloping the entire area in thick smoke, engulfing more than 100 vehicles and leaving nearly two dozen people hurt.

Police say they’ve arrested Avon Stephens, 23, on an arson charge in the fire at a parking garage at the mall on Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue. A motive wasn’t clear, and details on an attorney for Stephens weren’t immediately available.
The fire call came in shortly before 9 a.m. Monday, and the blaze quickly escalated from a two-alarm to a four-alarm fire, then became a six-alarm inferno within an hour. By 11:15 a.m., it was a seven-alarm blaze. It was under control by noon.

Twenty-one people, 18 of them firefighters, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, mostly related to smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion. Four of the victims were taken to hospitals. Fire officials warned the patient total would likely rise.
A law enforcement source said 137 cars were damaged, and 70 of them were burned to their shells, many of them Mercedes.
The garage holds about 4,000 spaces and fire officials said 120 cars are normally stored there by a car dealership. There were some explosions from car tires burning; officials said there is no risk of collapse.

Citizen app video showed smoke spewing from the garage as bystanders crowded near emergency vehicles, seeking shelter from the shroud of smoke.
More than a half-dozen MTA bus lines were running with delays in the area because of the FDNY activity. The department said more than 200 of its members responded.

A mall spokesperson said to avoid the area until further notice. The plaza was closed, though officials said the fire did not extend to any stores.
Kings Plaza has more than 120 stores, including Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears, H&M, Michael Kors, Express and Foot Locker.

In 2013, it became the subject of a controversial order that temporarily banned people younger than 18 without the presence of an adult after hundreds of teens attacked patrons and vandalized the shopping center, forcing it to shut down.
No one was ultimately charged in that fray, nor was anyone hurt.

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Kings-Plaza-Brooklyn-Car-Fires-493470611.html

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Council moves ahead on bills to help taxis

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After years of failing to address the fallout from an upended taxi industry, the City Council is trying to make up for lost time.

Just a month after leading the way to an unprecedented one-year cap on Uber and Lyft vehicles, the council’s for-hire vehicle committee was back in action today with a hearing on nine more bills.

Overall they’re aimed at addressing the economic plight of roughly 6,000 individual taxi-medallion owners and the wider pool of taxi and ride-hail drivers, who now number more than 185,000, up from 30,000 six years ago. The push for more legislation has been fueled by six suicides in the past year by drivers who grew desperate because of their circumstances—and by a sense that the ride-hail industry has lost the ability it once had to block legislation it didn’t like.

The bills include an effort to establish a task force to study medallion values and recommend policies to increase prices and one to ask the Taxi and Limousine Commission to set up a program to provide drivers with health care and other insurance benefits.
If the bills pass, however, it remains unclear when they would bring relief, what form that relief would take and how it would be paid for. The health benefits proposal calls for adding a surcharge to all taxi and for-hire vehicle fares—which would be in addition to a congestion-pricing surcharge ($2.50 for cabs, $2.75 for app-based services) that will go into effect Jan. 1.

Taxi and Limousine Commission chair Meera Joshi, who testified in support of the bills, said it would be better to find a funding mechanism that didn’t antagonize passengers. The FHV committee chair, Ruben Diaz Sr., also spoke up against the surcharge.

The TLC, which will be developing the rules and carrying out the legislation, also will need to find out exactly what the health insurance needs are for the vast majority of drivers.

“That will be a painstaking study,” Joshi said.

Other bills are aimed at fighting predatory practices by car-leasing operators. They would require the TLC to set a cap on costs, ensure consumer-protection practices and prevent leasing operators from making automatic deductions from drivers’ earnings.

Some medallion owners who blame the TLC for allowing Uber and Lyft to flourish declared that the raft of new bills wouldn’t do much good if Joshi remained in charge of developing and enforcing the regulations.

“In our view, there can be no remedy if the remedy and the implementation are left up to the current TLC regime, which is [composed] of leftovers from the Bloomberg administration,” said Carolyn Protz, a medallion owner, who read from a letter from the Taxi Medallion Owner Driver Association.

Joshi was, in fact, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, and much of the regulatory structure that determined Uber and Lyft’s place in the TLC universe was already in place when she started in May 2014.
In an email, Protz pointed out that Joshi was the TLC’s deputy counsel during the Bloomberg administration and that other senior TLC officials are also Bloomberg alumni.

Source: https://www.crainsnewyork.com/transportation/council-moves-ahead-bills-help-taxis

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