Friday, July 24, 2015

Uber's New Feature Likely Caused de Blasio to Drop Bill

On Wednesday, July 22, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped his proposed legislation which would have slowed the growth of Uber in NYC by limiting the number of drivers it could add over the next year, according to a New York Times article. This is very good news for the NYC economy. Prior to the bill’s cancellation, according to a TechCrunch article, David Plouffe, Chief Advisor for Uber, said the regulation would “cost 10,000 jobs, hurt underserved areas, and make wait times for Uber cars skyrocket.”
Mayor de Blasio likely dropped the proposed legislation due to an outcry from consumers and drivers, which Uber helped enable through use of its application. Even a couple famous celebrities jumped in on the action.
In response to the bill, Uber added a so-called “de Blasio’s Uber” feature to its application for over 2 million NYC users. When NYC users clicked on this feature it showed either no available drivers or a wait time of 25 minutes, representing how Mayor de Blasio’s proposed legislation would have severely impacted the market. (Uber rarely has a wait time over 5 minutes in populated cities.)
Then, instead of contacting a driver, the feature prompted an email to Mayor de Blasio and NYC’s City Council Members with an automatic statement opposing the bill. 
Free State Foundation Scholars submitted comments to the FTC prior to its June 9 workshop, warning against burdensome “sharing economy” regulations that did not serve legitimate health and safety objectives. FSF Scholars stressed that policymakers should focus on how the sharing economy has brought consumers efficiency, affordability, and convenience. So, it is good that consumers and drivers stood up against Mayor de Blasio’s protectionist legislation that would have inhibited Uber’s growth.
This example may dampen efforts by government officials in this country and around the world to restrict innovative new sharing economy businesses that benefit consumers by creating more competition and choice.