The last time Mayor Bill de Blasio tangled with Uber and other mobile-device ride-hailing companies, a campaign against his policies to limit their growth forced him to back down.
Now, taxi medallion owners, who in 2013 gave him hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, say de Blasio is betraying them. At issue is a requirement that at least half of the city’s traditional yellow cabs be wheelchair-accessible by 2020. But companies such as Uber and Lyft, regulated under different rules, are exempt.
“City regulators bowed and scraped before the multibillion-dollar corporate predators, allowing them to abide by their own rules,” Satwinder Singhe, president of the Taxi Medallion Owners and Drivers Association, said during a protest last Wednesday at City Hall, which drew about 80 supporters. “Why should Uber be allowed to flood the city with 33,000 cars and not have a single accessible vehicle?”
De Blasio’s battle with Uber last year left him politically wounded after he tried to limit the growth of e-hail cars while the city would study their impact on congestion. The mayor backed down after the company ran a multimillion-dollar ad campaign accusing him of taking jobs from immigrants, whom the mayor has considered part of his political base.
This time, the mayor hasn’t sought concessions from Uber.