New York mayor calls for 'pause' in Uber's growth

An Uber sign is seen in a car in New York city.
An Uber sign is seen in a car in New York city. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he wants to put brakes on Uber's growth "as quickly as possible," amid an increasingly heated feud with the online ride-booking service.

The New York City Council could vote this week to impose severe restrictions on Uber, limiting its expansion to one percent in the coming year to allow time to study the impact of the car service on traffic and pollution.

"I think the legislation is appropriate," de Blasio told a news conference. "And I think it should be voted on as quickly as possible."

The press conference was supposed to be about a heat wave afflicting New York, but the Democratic mayor was bombarded with questions about Uber, which in recent days has taken on de Blasio in an aggressive ad campaign on television and by email.

The California-based company now boasts a network of 20,000 vehicles in New York, surpassing the city's 13,587 iconic yellow cabs.


It alleges that the mayor wants to destroy 10,000 jobs and deprive taxi-starved city boroughs outside Manhattan of a vital service. It also accuses de Blasio of being under the sway of the taxi industry, which makes big political contributions.

The proposed legislation has also been denounced in recent days by the three big New York dailies - The New York Times, New York Post and the Daily News.

Uber has challenged de Blasio to an onlinr debate, but the mayor has refused.

"I don't debate with private corporations," he said. "Let's be clear - Uber is a multibillion dollar corporation, and they're acting like one. They're looking out for their corporate bottom line. They're putting their profits over all other considerations." They mayor insisted he was only calling for a temporary pause while Uber's impact was studied.

"A few years ago, no one had ever heard of Uber, and now suddenly it has more vehicles than we have yellow taxis in all of New York City.

"Obviously, that's had an impact on congestion in the city, particularly in midtown. Therefore, it also has an impact on pollution. It is clear that the growth has been consistent and if it weren't addressed, that congestion problem would just grow and grow," he said.

"So it made sense to call a pause - but not a pure pause, just a pause in the rate of growth - and to study the situation."