Uber and NYC shake hands and make peace, for now

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio drops his proposal to place a cap on the number of Uber cars in the city, while the ride-hailing service agrees to hand over previously undisclosed data.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
3 min read

In its battle with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Uber launched a feature in the New York version of its app asking passengers to denounce the mayor's bill that aimed to limit the number of Uber cars on the road. The Uber app

After a fierce public battle between Uber and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the two sides announced Wednesday that they've come to a mutual agreement.

De Blasio agreed to temporarily table a bill he proposed, which would limit Uber's growth. And Uber agreed to provide the city with previously undisclosed data for a comprehensive traffic study. Both sides appear to be content with the deal.

"We're pleased to have reached an agreement," Uber's New York City general manager, Josh Mohrer, said in a statement. "This is great news for all New Yorkers."

Uber and de Blasio have been engaged in an angry back-and-forth over the past week. The mayor said the growing number of Uber cars contributed to Manhattan's increasingly clogged streets, and Uber fought back with a negative publicity campaign saying the city's plan would "cost 10,000 jobs, hurt underserved areas and make wait times for Uber cars skyrocket."

This skirmish is one of many for Uber. The ride-hailing service, which pairs passengers and drivers via a smartphone app, has dueled with lawmakers across Europe, Asia and the US. The company typically adheres to a "launch first, deal with regulators later" approach. And now lawmakers from Spain to Korea to New York have begun to fight back.

Uber, which launched in 2009, is the world's largest ride-hailing service. It operates in more than 250 cities in 57 countries and it's impressed investors with that potential -- Uber is the second-highest-valued venture-backed company in the world, with a valuation of $41.2 billion.

New York is one of the company's biggest markets and, according to The New York Times, Uber has spent at least $225,000 on lobbying the mayor's office, the city council and the Taxi and Limousine Commission since 2014.

During its recent negative publicity campaign against de Blasio, Uber added a new feature to its app that let users see what the alleged wait time for an Uber car would be if the mayor's bill was passed. The company also ran negative television ads and flooded certain areas of the city with mailers and phone calls.

Uber launched in New York in 2011 and since that time the number of for-hire vehicles has grown by more than 60 percent, according to the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission. It's estimated that there are currently more than 60,000 for-hire vehicles on the road in New York City, with 20,000 being Uber cars.

De Blasio's bill proposed capping the current number of Uber cars while also allowing for growth of only 1 percent per year until 2016. The company has said its current New York City growth rate is roughly 3 percent per month. The city council was expected to vote on the bill on Thursday. But under the new agreement, the vote is off.

Now the city will move forward with its traffic study, which is expected to wrap up at the end of November.

"Uber will share information for the study above and beyond what has previously been provided, with safeguards to protect privacy," First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris said in a statement. "Uber has also agreed to maintain its approximate current rate of growth and not flood the streets with new licenses and vehicles."