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Comptroller calls for slamming the brakes on proposed Uber cap

A Uber car in Manhattan on July 20,

A Uber car in Manhattan on July 20, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

The city comptroller Tuesday called for the brakes to be slammed on a proposed cap on Uber and other for-hire cars, while Mayor Bill de Blasio ripped the company as it started an aggressive campaign for new drivers.

Comptroller Scott Stringer said the city shouldn't limit black and livery cars without first studying the impact of the industry on traffic.

"It makes no sense to arbitrarily cap Uber and other for-hire vehicle companies before we study the impact of congestion on the streets of New York," he said.

The City Council could vote as early as Thursday on two related bills -- one that would create a study on the impact of the rapidly growing black and livery car industry on congestion, and another that would sharply limit the cars during that analysis.

Stringer supports the study, but said he hoped the vote on the cap was taken off the table until it is completed.

"It's a knee-jerk response when we should be thinking like urban planners and transportation planners," he added. "And the city economy is at stake."

A spokesman for the mayor said the city is running out of time.

"We don't have the luxury of deferring action," said Wiley Norvell. "Without it, we'd face for-hire companies adding nearly as many new cars in the next six months as there are taxicabs in all of New York."

Before Stringer's jumped in to the debate Tuesday, de Blasio blasted Uber while visiting Vatican City. He said he had spoken to the Parisian mayor about the app company, and that both Paris and London faced similar challenges with Uber.

"As a multibillion dollar corporation, Uber thinks it can dictate to government," he said.

"The people of our cities don't like the notion of those who are particularly wealthy and powerful dictating the terms to a government elected by the people."

Stringer also called for black and livery cars to pay an MTA tax like yellow cabs, who contributed about $85 million toward public transit in 2014. The Taxi and Limousine Commission estimates that an MTA surcharge for black and livery could bring in an additional $70 million.

Despite a proposed cap that would limit Uber to an increase of 201 drivers while the city studied congestion, the company began a jobs tour Tuesdayin Long Island City to attract more drivers.

The company estimated about 2,000 people attended. Drivers ate soul food from Sylvia's in Harlem, as well as kosher and Middle Eastern food.

Olawale Akinfeleye, 47, of Queens said he already had been driving for Uber for six months, but came to show his support for the app and said he opposes a limit to new cars.

Before he started Uber, he worked 14-hour days as an ambulette driver and found it difficult to take time off.

"This is much better. Nobody is bossing you around," he said, adding that he doesn't think the app's cars are responsible for slowing down traffic. "It's not Uber. It's all the trucks and yellow cabs."

Ibrahim Mansaray, an Uber driver from the Bronx, said he is saving his earnings to become an independent filmmaker.

He said he prides himself on the cleanliness of his car, which makes riders happy, and has made friends with other drivers.

"I think it's unnecessary," he said about the cap. "We don't have enough cars in the city."

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams traveled to the Queens event to denounce limiting Uber, and suggested more negotiation at Borough Hall.

"We also cannot deny the fact that for-hire vehicles filled a major gap in serving the underserved, left open for years by the yellow taxi industry," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, actor and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher weighed in on social media. "I am beside my self with the regulation that Mayor DeBlasio is trying to force upon Uber and the citizens of NYC," wrote Kutcher on Facebook. "He clearly has his pockets lined by the cab co's."


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