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Mobile devices have transformed the business world, and perhaps no company has benefited from that more than Uber. Once people discovered the speed and convenience of requesting rides directly from their phones, the tech startup grew as rapidly as any in recent memory, and some thought it would never stop. Now, though, we may see government intervention that could pump the brakes on Uber’s growth.
For example, New York could become the first major U.S. city to put a cap on the number of registered Uber drivers, an aggressive move that would rein in the company’s rapid expansion and perhaps address local problems like increasing congestion and low driver wages.
Corey Johnson, New York’s city council speaker, is supporting the proposal to halt the issuance of new Uber licenses. The number of Uber drivers in the city is out of control (it’s now over 100,000, up from about 63,000 in 2015) and Johnson believes it’s time to intervene.
“This is the plan that we came up with, and in my heart, I believe it’s the best path forward,” he said. “Our goal has always been to protect drivers, bring fairness to the industry, and reduce congestion. That’s what this proposal does.”
Questions about Uber and its place in the modern American city are piling up. Not only do Uber drivers increase traffic and have a dubious impact on the economy, but there are safety concerns as well, considering that several local Uber drivers have been involved in accidents. Additionally, Uber’s reputation has declined recently amid conversations about gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the company’s headquarters. Uber’s founder resigned last year.
Uber, meanwhile, insists that capping its growth in New York would be a mistake.
“The City Council’s Uber cap will leave New Yorkers stranded while doing nothing to prevent congestion, fix the subways and help struggling taxi medallion owners,” said Josh Gold, a spokesman for Uber.