Uber is offering free UberPool rides to its New York customers to attend a pro-Uber protest at noon on Tuesday at New York’s City Hall.
On Monday, Uber sent an email to its New York City customers, asking them to “Save Uber as you know it in NYC.”
Its email to customers reads, in part:
“We need your help. Mayor de Blasio is supporting a bill that would stop thousands of new drivers from joining the Uber platform. This bill would destroy 10,000 job opportunities for New Yorkers in just one year, and result in longer wait times, higher prices and less reliable service for riders.”
The bill in question is backed by New York’s Taxi & Limousine Commission, and if it were to become law, it stands to severely kneecap Uber’s growth in New York, one of the company’s largest and more mature markets. Under the proposed bill, for-hire vehicle companies that have bases with 500 cars or more — which includes Uber — would only be able to increase their number of vehicles by 1% annually.
Proponents of the bill say it’s an effort to cut down on congestion and traffic in New York, according to the New York Post. In the past four years since Uber started operating in New York, 25,000 black cars have been introduced to New York’s streets. Today, New York is one of Uber’s biggest markets, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. There are more Uber vehicles than taxis on New York City’s streets.
In its email to customers, Uber says its UberPool service, which pairs you with other riders going the same direction as you, actually helps solve the problem of congestion. Uber is offering free UberPool rides to and from New York’s City Hall today until 2:30 pm to get riders and drivers to attend its rally. We’ve reached out to Uber for comment and for more information about the protest, and will update this post when we hear back.
Uber has previously butt heads with New York’s Taxi & Limousine Commission. Earlier this year, the TLC briefly suspended 5 of Uber’s 6 NYC bases, a largely toothless punishment served when Uber refused to hand over ride records.
Between April 29 and June 15, NYC authorities seized 496 cars from Uber drivers taking illegal street hails, mostly at the three airports in the region. And in May, the TLC published a series of newly proposed rules for how for-hire vehicles like Uber can operate. Among the TLC’s proposals for companies like Uber is something that would prevent drivers from using Uber’s turn-by-turn directions while they’re driving a car.