Prices, Wages, and Lawsuits Are Up in Response to NYC’s New For-Hire Driver Laws

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As if New York City wasn’t already expensive enough, the cost of ride-hailing has gone up for the companies servicing the New York metro area.

Last summer, the city council approved a bill that requires the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to set a minimum wage for for-hire vehicle drivers. The first of its kind in the U.S., the law sets the wage at $17.22 (after expenses) and went into effect on February 1—but not before pushback from Juno and Lyft.

Lyft files suit against New York City claiming new minimum wage it more difficult to compete against the much larger Uber.(Lyft)

In separate lawsuits filed on January 30, both companies claim the new TLC wage will put them at a Davidian disadvantage against the Goliath Uber. An attorney for Lyft stated that compliance would cost the company “approximately $2.5 million per week.”

Uber is not part of either suit and released a statement in support of a living wage for its drivers, but not without criticism of the TLC’s implementation of the new law. Via, which focuses mostly on ride-sharing, sent an email to users earlier this month stating that the company not only supports the minimum wage but also will not be increasing its rates.

But Don’t Forget Taxis

Taxi and medallion drivers filed their own suit against a related congestion surcharge, which further increases base rates for all for-hire rides.

Additionally, a separate but related congestion fee surcharge also goes into effect at the same time that affects all for-hire rides in Manhattan south of 96th Street. This means an extra charge of $2.50 for taxis, $2.75 for ride-hailing and black cars, and 75 cents for carpooling services. Taxi drivers filed suit to stop this latest fee from being imposed. A judge ruled the surcharge can proceed as scheduled but did not dismiss the lawsuit.

As for Juno and Lyft, their next court appearance is scheduled for March 18. Their judge recommended both companies to put their drivers’ pay differential into escrow while the case is pending. However, Lyft recently peddled back and will be paying its drivers the new TLC wage—at least until the hearing. For now, there have been no further comment from Juno.


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