Story at a glance
- New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to halt new licenses for for-hire cars, closing an EV loophole.
- Ride-sharing startup Revel says the move stifles market competition and protects rivals like Uber and Lyft.
- Local government officials say capping the EV exception protects struggling drivers.
On Tuesday, the organization that regulates taxis and for-hire vehicles in New York City approved a rule that removes electric vehicles (EVs) as an exception from the city’s cap on for-hire vehicles, halting new licences as the city is already at full capacity.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) voted 5-1 on the issue, noting that the ruling aims to protect currently licensed gas-powered for-hire cars from further market destabilization as the industry continues to suffer from COVID-19 restrictions.
“It is not sustainable to allow an unlimited number of new vehicles to the road in a city that is all too familiar with the choke of traffic congestion,” TLC Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk said during the meeting.
She also noted that vehicles already registered and working within the TLC requirements are struggling to get customers amid the pandemic. Still, she confirmed that TLC is committed to overhauling its for-hire fleet to transition completely into EVs, but cited infrastructure needs and other regulatory approval before swapping out vehicles.
“The TLC will do everything they can to support owners who want to transition their licensed vehicles from gas powered to electric, and we welcome competition and innovation to make that happen,” Heredia Jarmoszuk concluded.
Primary pushback came from a ride-sharing startup based out of Brooklyn called Revel, which aims to have 50 of its own Tesla Model Y cars on the road as for-hire vehicles.
Revel CEO Frank Reig spoke at the TLC meeting, saying the sudden decision to apply the vehicle cap to EVs stifles market competition as Revel aims to compete with companies like Lyft and Uber who have yet to adopt completely sustainable vehicles.
He added that his company provides drivers with a steady income, paid leave and access to health care — benefits often absent for drivers who work with other ride-sharing companies and are employed as contractors.
“This is progress that can and will not wait,” Reig said. “I encourage the commission to reconsider this absolutely short-sighted rule change.”
TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg confirmed to The Hill that despite the vote upholding the vehicle cap for EVs, the commission will include battery-run EVs in its biannual review to gauge the need and demand for additional vehicles.