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What You Need to Know about The Ride-Sharing Cap

Bedford L Station (photo: Julia Moak)

As the L-Pocalypse looms and the L train shuts down for 15 weekends starting this weekend, the City Council’s vote to put a cap on the number of ride-share cars is not welcome news to many in North Brooklyn. As local businesses already face the challenge of retaining customers over the course of the 15-month L Train Shutdown, we wonder how limiting the number of ride-share cars will affect local businesses and workers.

Over the years as the neighborhood’s population has exploded, North Brooklyn has seen a higher number of yellow cabs cruise through the neighborhood—and in fact, we house many of them here—but still nowhere near the number of yellow cabs you see on the streets of Manhattan. Before Uber and Lyft came to town, there were a handful of local car services like Northside, Java, or Metroline you’d call to get a ride somewhere, often paying a flat cash fee that included tip. And those drivers usually knew the best back streets to take to get you to JFK in about half an hour.

Uber & Lyft via Unsplash
photo illustration via Unsplash

These days, getting a cab is as easy as pressing a few buttons on your phone without having to wait on hold or talk to anyone or give your credit card info—and in North Brooklyn, a 1-minute or less wait for an Uber or Lyft (or Juno, or Via) is common. But often, drivers of ride-share vehicles are not local to your neighborhood and are blindly following robotic-voiced directions on their phones. (Ed note: Northside and Metroline have their own apps, and you can book online with Java).

New York City currently has more than 100k ride-share vehicles on the streets, compared with less than 15k yellow cabs. Six yellow cab drivers have committed suicide in the last few years—depressed and traumatized about not being able to pay their bills—while Uber and Lyft drivers of all ages, races and backgrounds have raked in some extra side hustle cash.

The suicides, combined with general concern about traffic congestion and lack of regulation prompted the city to do something about this rapid explosion of vehicles on our streets that have very visibly threatened the livelihoods of thousands of Yellow Cab drivers—who are still iconic of New York City. Two months ago almost 150 taxi medallions hit the bankruptcy auction block. According to Curbed, “In 2013, a medallion was worth as much as $1.3 million, however, competition from ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft has driven medallion prices down to as low as $160,000.” According to the Post, earnings for Yellow Cab drivers have plummeted to $29k per year by some estimates.

The legislation passed on Wednesday will require ride-share companies to purchase a for-hire vehicle license (or face a $10k penalty) currently set at $275 per car, exempting wheelchair accessible vehicles from a fee, and requires the TLC to set a minimum wage for ride-share drivers. And, of course, the cap. The law also says that no new licenses (except for accessible vehicles) will be given out for one year, while the TLC conducts a transportation study. New York is the first major city to impose a limit on the number of ride-share vehicles. In response, Uber says it’s planning to recruit the tens of thousands of drivers who already own a valid for-hire-vehicle license. The company, currently the highest valued startup at $68 billion, was a staunch opponent of the bill, launching an ad campaign to drum up support against it.

A 2018 TLC study found that setting a minimum wage for ride-share drivers to $17.22 per hour would increase driver net pay by 22.5%. And by instituting a minimum wage for drivers, Uber and Lyft would take less of a cut. It would, “…substantially reduce growth in the number of new drivers and vehicles and provide some indirect benefits for medallion drivers.” According to Mashable, “Lyft said it supports a livable wage for its drivers and is already paying close to the $17.22 minimum hourly rate (after expenses) to its drivers.”

It’s a fact that more ride-hailing apps means more cars on the streets, which in turn creates more traffic and congestion. City bus routes are affected (if you ride the B62 you know this is true), and of course first responders and emergency service workers can be delayed too. Jon Orcutt, the director of communications and advocacy at TransitCenter, says we are currently in “our worst transportation crisis in decades.”

L Train Illustration via @brooklyncartoons Instagram
Illustration via @brooklyncartoons Instagram

Of course, all of this is happening above ground and that’s not the only way New Yorkers travel. In April of 2019 the L Train will shut down for repairs for 15 months, forcing thousands of Brooklynites to find a different way to get into Manhattan. The MTA’s plans have been heavily criticized, with many arguing that they have only accounted for a fraction of workers who will need to get into the city every day. The Village Voice calls it a “recipe for gridlock.” Some North Brooklyn lifers shrug their shoulders while they wait for rents to drop and café crowds to thin out.

The full magnitude of the L-pocalypse and the effect on our daily commutes to Manhattan remains to be seen. We do know, however, that it’s going to be epic. The shutdown will have its own documentary, already has a news series on Vice, and has been making national news. And there have been plenty of crazy-not-so-crazy alternatives to the subway proposed.

Local business owners are none too happy about the shutdown either, knowing that without the daily influx of tourists coming into the neighborhood and with some residents moving out of the neighborhood entirely, their business will drop. Maybe even to 2008 levels. With a ride-share cap in addition to the shutdown, many businesses who rely on people from outside the neighborhood—restaurants, entertainment venues, retail establishments—will certainly feel a pinch. But others ask, is the idea of less people coming into the neighborhood really a bad thing? Isn’t the neighborhood overcrowded as it is? It’s a complicated issue.

Greenpointers, we want to know how the ride-share cap and the shutdown will affect you. Are you a business owner or a Lyft driver? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

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Every Story Is About Congestion & Change — The Hook-Up 3/4

Photo via Lore Croghan, Brooklyn Eagle
Photo via Lore Croghan, Brooklyn Eagle
In January, Assemblyman Lentol announced a temporary suspension of alternate side parking rules on film shoot days, but that hasn’t stopped film crews from competing for space with residents (hearsay is that the production crew of “Tiara” blocked off a G Train entrance during rush hour). Well, if you ever wanted a quantifiable look at just how movie-famous our neighborhood is, here’s an interactive map.
 
Subway slashings have officially landed on the G Line (well, it happened once, but still). Now, police are looking to amp up NYPD presence on the trains at night.
 
You may have heard about plans to reevaluate the Meeker Avenue crossing, but the rather congested North Brooklyn is going to be the subject of a larger, more comprehensive transportation study.

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You’ve Heard About the L-Pocalypse. What About the G-Pocalypse?

greenpointg16
Photo: Jeremiah Cox

The L Train is facing an imminent, extensive shutdown in the wake of lingering Hurricane Sandy damage, and North Brooklyn hasn’t taken the news very well.

And why would it, given the amount of daily riders who travel through the Canarsie Tube every day — around 350,000 — not to mention the huge impact ridership has on local businesses?

Currently, the MTA is considering two options to implement as early as 2017: to close the entire tunnel nonstop for one year, or to leave one side open and reduce traffic to half-volume, which would take anywhere from three to four years.

Not ones to bide their time quietly, a number of local residents and business owners have already formed The L Train Coalition to demand a better solution from the MTA, though many know full well that the answer will definitely be “pain.”

Pain, of course, can be abstract or painted in sharp relief. And while a fair amount of ink has been spilled over the implications for L Train commuters, there are fewer educated guesses regarding the fate of surrounding areas like Greenpoint, which will absorb a great deal of shock from the closure as riders scramble to find alternative routes. Continue reading

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All That Sparkles is Gold Donuts & the Promise of a Better Newtown Creek — The Hook-Up 1/22

Peter Pan's crullers are ready for their beauty shots. Photo via Christopher Lee for The New York Times.
Peter Pan’s crullers are ready for their beauty shots. Photo via Christopher Lee for The New York Times.

The treasure that is Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop is not a secret to anyone who’s lived in Greenpoint for more than two months, but it was recently given the New York Times treatment. Donuts! Must be a Brooklyn thing. Especially when they’re leafed in 24-karat gold.

Uber baby, or Übermenschen? A baby girl was born in the back of an Uber while stuck in BQE traffic in Greenpoint on Monday. Continue reading

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Greenpoint’s Taxi Graveyard

Photo © Emma Whitford via the Gothamist
Photo © Emma Whitford via the Gothamist

In the land of transportation woes, Greenpoint has got another thing to worry about. It’s a yellow graveyard growing on the outer-edges of Provost Street. No, these aren’t daisies growing in a cemetery; these are the remains of discarded NYC cabbies which nobody wants to claim.

For a good part of the year, this graveyard has crept outside of the crowded taxi dispatch, McGuiness Management Corporation, located on the corner of McGuiness Boulevard and Huron Street and continues to grow outwards onto the surrounding streets. With the Uber lobbyists hard at work in Albany and the infusion of green taxis making outer borough pick-ups, yellow taxis are feeling the pinch. Their carcasses can be seen snaking their way  onto Provost Street, filling up side blocks all the way from Huron down to Freeman Street.

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Word on the Curb: Cowboy in Williamsburg & $16,000 Uber bill?!

Well Greenpoint, strange things are happening in the world of transportation these days. Whether you are hoofing it on NAG’s Industrial History walking tour this Saturday, or simply looking for a way around this nasty L train shutdown business, you might want to reexamine your travel plans because there other options you might or might not want to consider.

Stop horsing around

Photo © Chriscubeta via Instagram
Photo © Chriscubeta via Instagram

Earlier this week, Williamsburg saw something that it hasn’t seen in a loooong time—I’ll let you guess, and no, it wasn’t a grungy hipster.

What had curious onlookers furiously snapping pics?

The sight of a man and his horse casually trotting along Union Avenue, with sun on their backs and a breeze blowing through their manes.

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Holiday Market: Getting There (FREE RIDES!) (Sunday, 12/8)

Of course the G train isn’t running to our neck of the woods tomorrow for our Holiday Market. The last stop is Nassau Ave but there will be  Manhattan Ave shuttle buses running between Nassau Ave and Greenpoint Ave and to LIC and back.

Once you get off the bus, at Greenpoint Ave and Manhattan Ave – walk towards the East River. Once you hit West St (right before Transmitter Park) make a left.

The address is 67 West St, 5th Fl. (between Noble St and Milton St) in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Or you can walk or bike or take a FREE Ride with Uber! Continue reading

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