NYC sets $17 an hour minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers

Marco Green
December 5, 2018

New York City has become the first in the U.S.to set a minimum wage for app-based vehicle services.

The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved the rules that will establish a per-minute and per-mile payment formula for Uber, Lyft, Via and Gett.

The minimum pay floor is a first for the US ridehail industry and could mean rides in NY will get pricier.

A TLC study found that 96 percent of the drivers now make less than the current minimum wage. A report Parrott co-authored this summer found that most ride-hail drivers earn less than $17.22 an hour.

"This first-time regulation to form a floor for app driver earnings and give a modest first raise is a long time in the making", said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance.

The new formula factors in drivers' total working time and their time spent transporting fares in order to incentivize efficient use of drivers. But while NY is home to the largest pool of ride-hailing drivers in the country, it's also an anomaly in several key ways that could keep the TLC's rules from spreading to other cities. In New York, 60 per cent of the drivers are full-time.

New York's driving population is also unusually well-organised.

Critics of the proposal - including ridehailing's biggest companies - say the cut:[ridehailing] pay mandate will make it harder and more expensive for passengers to get around.

"The TLC's implementation of the City Council's legislation to increase driver earnings will lead to higher-than-necessary fare increases for riders while missing an opportunity to immediately reduce congestion in Manhattan's central business district", company officials said in a statement.

Lyft also pushed back on the pay rules.

Both Uber and Lyft have said they're in favour of a living wage for drivers, but opposed the TLC's rules. It called the new system "a step backward for New Yorkers". New York City has about 14,000 taxi drivers.

The Independent Drivers Guild, a local affiliate of the Machinists Union, advocated for the change. "All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers' rights in America".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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