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NYC extends cap on new ride-hail licenses

NEW YORK (AP) — A moratorium on most new licenses for Uber, Lyft and other for-hire vehicles that had been due to expire will instead be extended, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday. The expansion of last year's cap is part of a slate of new actions that will also limit how much time drivers can cruise in Manhattan's busiest areas without a passenger.

"For too long, app companies have taken advantage of hardworking drivers, choking our streets with congestion and driving workers into poverty," de Blasio said in a statement announcing the changes. "That era will come to an end in New York City."

But Uber, which had filed suit over the initial cap, and Lyft pushed back against the new cap extension Wednesday, saying it would harm riders and drivers. The extension "is misguided and will be damaging to riders and drivers, as further restrictions on rideshare will result in fewer rides and lower earnings," said Campbell Matthews, a Lyft spokeswoman.

The initial ban had been implemented as a response to the meteoric rise in the number of ride-hail vehicles on city streets in recent years, which supporters praised as vital to transportation but critics lambasted for adding heavily to congestion. Critics also chastised the rise of the for-hire vehicles for creating a financial mess for yellow cab drivers and also for ride-hail drivers who said the glut of cars competing for fares was cutting into their income.

The city has also put in place minimum wage rules for the ride-hail drivers. As part of Wednesday's announcement, the city said the Taxi and Limousine Commission would institute a rule that by August 2020, the app companies could only have drivers cruising in Manhattan's core areas without passengers 31% of the time, down from the 41% of the time city officials said they currently do. If they don't reach that target, the city said, the companies will face sanctions.

The city has also been taking steps to help the drivers of the city's iconic yellow cabs, including waiving the fees they had been required to pay every two years to renew their medallions, the licenses that allow the yellow taxis to be driven.

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