App-based ride services account for 80,000 vehicles in New York City, and provide 17 million rides per month, according to a study by The New School for the TLC. "We're trying to create some level of parity, protect all drivers who have seen a diminishment in pay, and try to work on the congestion issue which is plaguing and choking the streets of New York City".
They also said black and Hispanic New Yorkers need ride-hailing apps because yellow cab drivers often won't stop for them.
"It's critical for New York to regulate minimum fare rates - the only source of income for drivers - across the taxi and app-dispatch sectors, so no worker gets left behind", wrote councilmember Adrienne Adams in a New York Times op-ed. The insider was unsure of the exact nature of these last-minute amendments, but another source suggested that a final draft of the bill might allow now licensed Uber and Lyft cars to be rented to other drivers, possibly creating yellow-taxi-style fleets of ride-hail cars.
Six drivers have killed themselves in the a year ago, including one who shot himself in his vehicle in front of City Hall after railing against politicians and Uber in a newsletter column.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which has pushed hard for the freeze, hailed the city council.
"The unchecked growth of app-based for-hire vehicle companies has demanded action", he added, "and now we have it".
"These sweeping cuts to transportation will bring New Yorkers back to an era of struggling to get a ride, particularly for communities of color and in the outer boroughs", he said in a statement following the vote.
Other bills set a minimum wage for drivers for Uber and other services, and aim to impose regulatory parity with yellow cabs.
Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said the pause on new vehicle licenses 'will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion'.
"Max" from RideShare Drivers United has also welcomed the move in NY. The Times reported that Uber, which regained its license to operate for 15 months, agreed to report incidents to the police and share traffic data with the city, among other new measures. Several thousand more drivers worked for black auto companies that dispatched vehicles by phone, mostly in the outer boroughs of Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn, where yellow cabs generally wouldn't travel.
"We would like to see a committee whose job is to check the expenses of the vehicle to find out what the cost is to the driver per kilometre", he said. Which, as Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) put it, "is like putting a cap on Netflix subscriptions because Blockbusters are closing".
"We're really concerned about the process and the speed with which the council is trying to ram this through", said Joseph Okpaku, vice president of public policy at Lyft.
"This is an industry that has seen explosive growth over the last three years", said Johnson.