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NYC considers new pay rules for Uber drivers

New York

NEW YORK CITY regulators are moving towards significantly raising wages for drivers for Uber and other ride-hailing apps. This would make New York the first major American city to establish pay rules to grapple with the upheaval caused by the expansion of ride-hailing companies that has decimated the taxi industry and left many drivers in financial ruin.

Uber's rides are often less expensive and more comfortable than taxis, but many of its drivers are struggling to make a decent living after the company gets its cut.

"Their low pay has persisted despite the rapid growth of the industry," the study said.

If a driver's earnings fall below US$17.22 per hour over the course of a week, the companies will be required to make up the difference. The study suggested that the companies could absorb this cost partly by lowering their commissions, which range from 10 to 25 per cent of passenger fares on average. The median net hourly earnings in the industry were about US$14.25, the study found.

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The taxi commission has the power to adopt the rules without the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio or the City Council, but the mayor said that he prefers to address the driver pay problem through the City Council.

The New York pay rules would apply to four major car service apps - Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno - all of which provide more than 10,000 trips each day in New York.

"This is an important step in addressing one of the many pressing challenges that face the for-hire and taxi industries today," said the taxi commissioner, Meera Joshi.

Uber said on Monday that it had major concerns over the proposal. Alix Anfang, a spokeswoman, said in a statement that the company was worried that it would hurt "riders through substantially increased prices and reduced service." Drivers across the for-hire vehicle and taxi businesses said that they are not making enough to pay their bills or support their families.

The study found that about 40 per cent of drivers have incomes so low that they qualify for Medicaid, and about 18 per cent qualify for food stamps.

New York City is considering a broader series of regulations for Uber, including a cap on vehicles, as debate has intensified not only over pay but about worsening traffic from the flood of for-hire cars. NYTIMES

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