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Mayor Bill de Blasio study says Uber, other apps aren’t boosting NYC congestion

An Uber car waits for a fare in

An Uber car waits for a fare in lower Manhattan on Aug. 10, 2015. Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft aren’t to blame for heavier congestion in Manhattan, a de Blasio administration study said Friday — repudiating a key argument the mayor cited last year for capping the use of the services.

The study, costing $2 million and released overdue, concluded that slower speeds in Manhattan’s central business district, in areas from 86th to 14th streets “are driven primarily by increased freight movement, construction activity and population growth.”

“E-dispatch is a contributor to overall congestion but did not drive the recent increase,” the “key challenges & findings” section said before concluding: “This study does not recommend a cap on for-hire vehicles at this time.”

De Blasio had backed a moratorium last summer when he vowed to regulate Uber and other such services that have taken ridership from traditional yellow taxicabs. That industry was among the top donors to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign for mayor.

Uber fought the plan, which would have capped growth of the for-hire industry until the study was done. The company marshaled a lobbying push led by David Plouffe, a former adviser to President Barack Obama. De Blasio later backed off and commissioned the study without the moratorium.

The study did conclude there were more for-hire rides like Uber, but they were offset by fewer rides in yellow-cabs, whose drivers can pick up a street hail because the owner paid the city for a medallion.

“Increases in e-dispatch trips are largely substituting for yellow taxi trips,” according to the study.

The mayor’s press office distributed a link to the 12-page report, “For-Hire Vehicle Transportation Study,” noting in the subject line that an accompanying statement was from spokesman Peter Kadushin.

“We are pleased to release the findings of our study and look forward to continued work with the City Council and industry partners to create comprehensive proposals to address accessibility, consumer and employee safety, mobility and securing support for our public transit system,” Kadushin’s statement said.

Earlier Friday, the mayor told reporters, “We’re looking at trying to make decisions about where we go from here” and “we’ll have more to say on that in the coming days.”

Also Friday, City Council leaders announced new plans to regulate the industry.


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