Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning that his administration retains the option of ultimately capping the number of Uber vehicles on New York City roads in an eleventh-hour deal with the popular app-dispatched livery service.
"We don't take any option off the table," he said in a TV interview on "CBS This Morning." "If we ultimately believe there needs to be a cap or some kind of additional regulation, we'll do that."
De Blasio was returning from a trip to Vatican City on Wednesday when his administration announced an agreement with Uber to collaborate on a four-month environmental review with the multibillion-dollar transportation company contributing data. A decision could be made to restrict Uber's growth as originally planned if the study shows such action is warranted, he said.
"No company gets to dictate the rules to government. We have the public's interest" in mind, de Blasio said in his first public remarks after the deal was struck.
When asked about the hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars that Uber's competition, the traditional yellow taxicab industry, has donated to him, de Blasio said, "That's not the point."
The environmental review will assess the impact of for-hire vehicles on New York City congestion -- a chief City Hall complaint about what it saw as the unchecked expansion of Uber's fleet.
Uber can grow at its current rate, though city officials reserve the right to impose a cap if the traffic study concludes it is necessary, de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said Wednesday.
The deal came on the eve of what was to be a City Council vote on legislation launching a 14-month environmental review while restricting Uber's growth to 1 percent.
Administration and Uber officials met near City Hall for an hourslong discussion Wednesday afternoon to complete the agreement, Norvell said.
"Uber will share information for the study above and beyond what has previously been provided, with safeguards to protect privacy," First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris said in a statement Wednesday night. "Uber has also agreed to maintain its approximate current rate of growth and not flood the streets with new licenses and vehicles."
In a statement Wednesday, Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber's New York division, said the company looks forward to working "on ways to continue expanding economic opportunity, mobility and transportation access in the city."
Uber also agreed to make its vehicles more handicap-accessible and to contribute to the city's mass transit system, as yellow cabs do, Wiley said.
The contours of the agreement are similar to the deal the company refused in negotiations July 13, so long as a cap was on the table, Wiley said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo waded into the fight Wednesday, siding with Uber against his rival de Blasio and saying he doesn't believe "government should be in the business of trying to restrict job growth."
Uber said the proposed cap would come at a loss of 10,000 potential driver job opportunities. It said it has 26,000 full- and part-time vehicles in the city and would have been limited to only 200 more in the next year.
De Blasio, who has donors in the competing taxicab industry, had sought to portray the San Francisco-based company as a "multibillion-dollar corporation" worried only about its bottom line while trying to skirt government regulation. Uber, in turn, launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against City Hall, and celebrity fans -- including model Kate Upton and actor Ashton Kutcher -- defended the high-tech livery service on Twitter.
Cuomo spoke against de Blasio's plan in an upstate radio station interview on WCNY's "The Capitol Pressroom," then added at an unrelated lower Manhattan event that City Hall's actions would have statewide implications.
"If you wanted to address congestion, all this is going to do is have a lot of cars coming from Nassau and Westchester into the city to drop off their passengers and that's the worst situation," he told reporters.
Cuomo spoke by phone Wednesday with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, though her spokesman would not give details.