Uber's New York operations are being threatened. Working with City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration have proposed a cap on growth of all for-hire vehicle companies during a study of traffic patterns, congestion, and air quality in New York City. And Uber is not happy about it.
After rolling out a slew of anti–de Blasio TV spots and banner ads, Uber today began appealing directly to its user base via a new Uber app feature affectionately dubbed "the de Blasio option." That feature, offered alongside the company's traditional UberX, UberPool, and UberBlack options, demonstrates what an Uber ride might look like were de Blasio's rule to be passed.
Select the "de Blasio option" in Uber and you'll see "set pickup location" replaced by a 25-minute wait time and an ominous click bar reading "see what happens." Clicking on that directs riders to Uber's petition to the mayor.
"Mayor de Blasio's plan to stop Uber will cost 10,000 jobs, hurt underserved areas and make wait times for Uber cars skyrocket," chief adviser for Uber David Plouffe told BuzzFeed in an emailed statement. "With this view, New York City riders can see for themselves how much time this political payback to big taxi owners will cost them."
As BuzzFeed News reported, though Uber has 26,000 current active drivers, the company sees 25,000 new users on a weekly basis just in New York — the largest and one of the most crucial markets for the company. A freeze on growth, which as proposed would limit Uber to just 201 more drivers over the next year, would be a significant blow to the company's business model. Wait times, as the de Blasio feature illustrated, would greatly increase, while outer-borough service would falter. And for a company that stakes its reputation on efficiency, that is most certainly a death sentence.
Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.
Contact Johana Bhuiyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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