New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio backed down Wednesday on a plan to cap the number of vehicles operated by the ride-hailing service Uber, amid backlash from supporters of the app that included fellow Democrat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several celebrities.
The mayor said he was suspending his threat as the city agreed to join forces with Uber to conduct a four-month study assessing the company’s impact on the city’s traffic and environment, according to press reports.
Uber also said it would release certain information about its figures on ridership and the number of miles they drive in the city, according to reports.
The announcement comes just one day before the City Council was to vote on Mr. de Blasio’s plan to regulate the amount of Uber drivers on NYC roads and four days after the mayor railed against the service in an op-ed for the New York Daily News.
“When you consider what’s at stake — from ensuring workers can make a decent living, to managing the surge of more than 2,000 new cars on our streets every month, to protecting consumers from overcharges, to making sure we have more accessible vehicles for New Yorkers with disabilities — it’s our responsibility to act,” Mr. de Blasio wrote.
Uber has found itself in battles with local, state and even national governments around the country and around the world as it expands its fleet of drivers, although the New York City battle has been particularly fierce. Supporters say the service expands consumer choice and provides needed competition to entrenched taxi cab companies, but critics like say Uber and its imitators undercut traditional ride services by skirting local taxes, safety regulations and consumer protections.
Mr. de Blasio also blamed Uber for increasing traffic congestion in the city and hurting workers’ rights.
Mr. Cuomo shot back at the mayor, accusing Mr. de Blasio of making things “more complicated, not less.”
“Uber is one of these great inventions, start-ups, of this new economy. And it’s offering a great service for people and it’s giving people jobs. I don’t think government should be in the business of trying to restrict job growth. I don’t believe you can restrict job growth,” Mr. Cuomo said on the “Capitol Pressroom” radio show.
Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the mayor pushed back, telling The Wall Street Journal, “The issues here are serious for our city — protecting workers and passengers, fair service for people with disabilities, supporting public transit, addressing rising congestion.”
But some high-profile celebrities were siding with the governor Wednesday, including model Kate Upton and actor Neil Patrick Harris. Actor and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher used his giant social media presence to blast Mr. de Blasio as an enemy of innovation.
“He talks about protecting drivers but has no idea about the people who drive for Uber to subsidize their income,” Mr. Kutcher wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
“He talks about congestion but doesn’t even recognize that Uber is a fraction of a fraction of the traffic in the city. He talks about data but fails to recognize that he has none,” Mr. Kutcher added.
“He clearly has his pockets lined by the cab [companies],” he added.
• Jessica Chasmar and Douglas Ernst contributed to this report.