Uber, facing new regulations from taxi officials, is rallying hundreds of its "driver-partners" in DUMBO Thursday, while inviting elected officials to show that Brooklynites use and work for the taxi app company.
"We just want all the elected officials to understand that their constituents, many of them use Uber, they make a living on it, they use it to get to and from work," said Josh Mohrer, general manager for Uber NYC, told amNewYork.
The gathering at the 26 Bridge event space in DUMBO is expected to draw 500 Brooklyn drivers; Uber is up to 18,000 drivers in New York. Councilman Robert Cornegy of Crown Heights is slated to attend; city lawmakers had introduced bills to cap Uber's controversial surge pricing and restrict drivers' ability to moonlight for it part time.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission, meanwhile, will hold a hearing next week on rules requiring these companies to get licensed with the agency, let officials review updates to an app, and charge a $1,000 fee for smartphone apps that want in on the taxi business. The rules would also restrict how Uber and its competitors can make airport pickups.
"These draft rules threaten the options NYC riders and drivers have come to rely on," Uber spokesman Matt Wing said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Uber plans to tout its small business benefits in a blog post about how the service benefits Red Hook's bar and restaurant scene, along with a quote of praise from the owner of Hometown BBQ. There were 20,000 Uber trips this year to the waterfront neighborhood, where the nearest trains are across the Gowanus Canal or in Carroll Gardens. One in three Uber trips to and from Red Hook will be at a small business, according to the post.
"Uber's doing a lot for the boroughs," Mohrer said. "We do want to show the city that Uber is a fundamental transportation option."
On the tech side, a trade group that counts Google and Facebook among its members, the Internet Association, last week went to bat for Uber, accusing the de Blasio administration in a letter of pushing regulations that would "stifle innovation and the progress" made in the city.
TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi defended the proposed rules as basic consumer protections and safety measures, and denied that the TLC would review software upgrades. She said taxi officials asked Uber to provide its own language for rules to review app updates.
The app preview "would ensure rules compliance and avoid customer confusion and unintended violations," she said in the statement.