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NYC Ride-Share Protest Lacked Acceleration

NYC Ride-Share Protest Lacked Acceleration

A strike Wednesday morning by Uber and Lyft ride-share drivers in New York City did not have the “acceleration” that many expected, but drivers who rallied in Queens declared their two-hour strike a success even if it didn’t shut down rush hour.

Dozens of ride-share drivers congregated in front of Uber headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, after a caravan of ride-share drivers cruised down the Brooklyn Bridge.

The caravan included protestors who turned-off their ride-hailing apps and opted to not take fares during the morning rush between 7 and 9 a.m.

Though some expected the strike to cause chaos during the morning commute, due to possible surge pricing and cars being scarce, that was not the case.

These New York City drivers joined nationwide protests, as many employees — upset over what they consider unfair standards — demanded better job security and pay.

The protests come just one day before Uber is set to start selling shares to the public on Thursday and may be worth around $90 billion dollars, but drivers say they’re not seeing enough of that profit for themselves.

Those who did walk out said they had hoped for a bigger response.

“I’m a little bit disappointed but I can’t hate on drivers who barely make enough money to want to drive,” Uber driver Cameron Kruger said, adding that he makes less money now than when he first started “by far.”

“This has been a race to the bottom since the beginning and unfortunately we started at $2.85 a mile, I make a $1.09 a mile and 50 cents a minute at this point,” Kruger said.

Meanwhile, Uber says it is working to improve the driver experience “whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance, protections or fully funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families.”

Additionally, Uber spokesperson Harry Hartfield said: “Drivers are at the heart of our service, and we can’t succeed without them. We’ll continue working to improve drivers experience for and with them, every day.”

A Lyft spokesperson said “drivers’ hourly earnings have increased over the last two years,” adding they can “earn over 20 dollars per hour.”

According to Uber, based on data there were 500 fewer drivers than usual this morning which is less than one percent of the 120,000 for-hire drivers in New York City. The number is so small it’s hard to tell if it was just a daily anomaly or related to the planned work stoppage.

However, the head of the Taxi Workers Alliance, the union representing about 10,000 Uber and Lyft drivers insists the strike was a success.

Bhairavi Desai said of the work stoppage, “We got to them. We got into their heads.”

Desai disputes the Uber estimate of only 500 fewer drivers.

There are more than 430,000 daily Uber users and 150,000 Lyft users on average in New York City every day, according to the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).

While it was not a crippling morning commute, TLC will not have the exact numbers of how many drivers opted out of their ride-hailing service for about a month.

“In New York City, professional drivers have made crucial gains in working conditions in recent months. The TLC passed a new minimum pay standard that will help drivers take home almost $10,000 more a year. This pay standard was upheld by a court this week, despite challenges by the app companies,” Acting TLC Commissioner Bill Heinzen said in a statement.

“The de Blasio administration, working with Council, put a one-year cap on the number of [for-hire vehicles], which had flooded our streets with thousands of new cars each month. There is still much work ahead, and the TLC is fully committed to helping all drivers,” the statemen goes on to say.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

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