NYC, Uber reach deal: No cap on cars during study


NEW YORK (AP) -- A deal has been struck between New York City and Uber on the eve of a City Council vote that could have placed a cap on the number of cars the ride-hailing company can have on the streets of the nation's largest city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration announced Wednesday that Uber agreed to a four-month study on the impact of the cars on traffic and the environment. Under the deal, the city will not cap Uber's growth during those four months.

The agreement contrasts with the legislation the council was set to vote on Thursday that called for a 1 percent cap on the California-based company's growth within the city during a yearlong study. Uber has steadfastly opposed any cap, and the company and City Hall had traded increasing nasty barbs over the past week.

But the hostilities were set aside to announce the surprise arrangement, which also includes commitments from Uber to make more of its vehicles handicap-accessible and to turn over data to the city on the location and duration of its rides.

City officials said the deal was reminiscent of what the de Blasio administration offered Uber early in the negotiating process. They said a cap could still be imposed if Uber reneges on the agreement.

A call to Uber for comment was not immediately returned.

Uber, a $40 billion company, has become a dominant force on the streets of New York, dispatching 25,000 cars compared to 13,000 of the city's iconic yellow taxis.

The de Blasio administration had pushed for a cap, citing concern over increased congestion on Manhattan's clogged streets. When talks broke down last week, sniping between City Hall and Uber reached a frenzy with expensive TV ad campaigns that have blanketed the airwaves.

Though most observers believe the City Council legislation would have passed, the de Blasio administration's position appeared to weaken as Uber unleashed its ad campaign, depicting the mayor as too influenced by the yellow taxi industry, which ranks among his biggest donors.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other public officials also called for the council to delay the vote.

The ride-hailing service, which provides cars summoned by smartphone app, attacked the mayor even in the hour before the deal was announced, saying his central argument -- that Uber is a leading cause of traffic -- was not true.

Yellow taxis make 90 percent of their trips in Manhattan, according to city officials. Uber released data that it said showed a far lower percentage of its rush hour trips began there.

Uber officials also said it has an hourly average of just under 2,000 cars in the city's central business district during the day, a far cry from the huge number of yellow taxis that operate there. The company's seemingly ubiquitous ads also touted its service to minority riders in outer boroughs -- de Blasio's political base.