NYC, Boston view ride-hailing apps differently

New York City and Boston are night and day when it comes to ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft.

New York is engaged in a fierce policy debate about the apps, amid fears they are contributing to crippling congestion and exploiting drivers. In Boston and at the MBTA, meanwhile, the issue is largely on mute, with public officials wary of tinkering with a service that took city residents on nearly 35 million trips last year.

The New York City Council is expected to take up a series of measures today that would halt the issuance of new Uber and Lyft vehicle licenses for a year and also allow the city to set a minimum pay rate for drivers. Corey Johnson, the speaker of the council, and Mayor Bill de Blasio both support the measures, saying the city needs time to figure out what to do.

“The Uber business model is: Flood the market with as many cars and drivers as possible, gain more market share, and to hell with what happens to drivers or anybody else involved,” said de Blasio, who tried and failed to cap the number of ride-hailing vehicles in 2015. Since then, the number of “for-hire” vehicles has grown from 63,000 to more than 100,000.

Uber and Lyft have fought back, arguing the measures would raise prices and lengthen wait times for rides. Their #DontStrandNYC campaign has also suggested minorities would suffer most and even argued that New Yorkers need the app more than ever because the subway and bus systems are not reliable.

“A 12-month pause on new for-hire vehicle licenses will leave New Yorkers stranded while doing nothing to prevent congestion, fix the subways, and help struggling taxi medallion owners,” Josh Gold, a spokesman for Uber, said in a statement.

New York is far and away the largest market for ride-hailing apps in the United States, but most evidence would suggest the apps are having a similar type of impact in Boston. A report produced by Bruce Schaller of Schaller Consulting said 70 percent of all Uber and Lyft trips in the United States take place in just nine metro areas – Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.  His report also said the apps were major contributors to congestion in the nine metro areas, added to traffic even when passengers shared rides, and attracted a large percentage of passengers who would otherwise be taking public transit, walking, or biking.

But the response of public officials in Boston has been far different than in New York City. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has suggested fees on the apps could be raised to help support public transit, but his administration appears more concerned about making the apps navigate city streets smoothly than restricting their operations.

The Baker administration went along with a 20-cent fee on each Uber and Lyft ride, but beyond that officials don’t seem in any hurry to impose higher fees or new restrictions on the apps. And the Fiscal and Management Control Board, which oversees the T, can’t seem to decide whether the ride-hailing apps are friends or enemies.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Senate President Karen Spilka put a hold on the horse racing/simulcasting legislation during the Legislature’s marathon session last week. She said she was just prioritizing legislation during the final crunch, but some State House insiders see the move as a sign of tension between her and House Speaker Robert DeLeo. (CommonWealth)

The Massachusetts Legislature is among the least diverse in the country. (Boston Globe)

There is broad support in the Legislature for a measure that would allow state-employed public defenders — among the lowest paid such attorneys in the country — to unionze, but the effort keeps falling into a Beacon Hill black hole in the House. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Larry Lucchino, chairman of the Pawtucket Red Sox, was spotted in Worcester on Tuesday as speculation mounts that the team may be preparing to move. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission has asked an outside firm to review its culture after two employees filed lawsuits alleging rampant race and gender bias at the city agency. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Voters rejected Missouri’s so-called right-to-work law, delivering a major union victory. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

The GOP nominee held a razor-thin lead in a special election that’s too close to call for a congressional seat in Ohio but President Trump declared victory anyway in a district he had won handily in 2016. (New York Times)

A Globe editorial endorses an effort to bring ranked-choice voting to Massachusetts. This CommonWealth feature story last fall laid out the case for the reform by showing the large number of state legislative seats decided by split plurality votes.

The three Republican seeking the US Senate nomination debate for the first time, a tilt that focused heavily on Donald Trump, who two candidates, Geoff Diehl and Beth Lindstrom, said they’d vote for in 2020, while John Kingston was non-committal. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial applauds the three candidates for the spirited debate on Herald Radio, but suggests Diehl did best, declaring that he was in the “best ‘fighting shape,’ politically” when it was over.

Josh Zakim, who is running for secretary of state, accused his opponent, William Galvin, of not doing enough for a legislative effort to offer early voting even though Galvin can prove he pushed for the legislation. (State House News)

Democratic primary contestants Michael Capuano and Ayanna Pressley go at it for an hour in a debate in their race for the congressional seat Capuano has held for 20 years. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The developer of Boston’s latest ultra-luxury One Dalton tower, which is scheduled to open next spring, said a lot of the units have already been sold at prices ranging from $1.5 million for the lowest-priced unit to $40 million for a duplex penthouse. (CommonWealth)

Shirley Leung considers whether the Boston area restaurant market has become oversaturated, and finds some evidence that it has. (Boston Globe)

Elon Musk drove stock prices of Tesla soaring with a terse tweet that he was thinking of taking the electric car company private with a stock buyout of $420 a share, which would make it the biggest buyout in history at $72 billion. (Wall Street Journal)

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey refused to follow Facebook, Apple, and YouTube in banning Alex Jones, saying he will be guided by principles not pressure. (The Guardian)

Boston Beer Co. founder Jim Koch was scheduled to dine with President Trump along with other business leaders and then join state Sen.Barbara L’Italien, a candidate for Congress in Massachusetts, a week later. (WBUR)

More than 600 people got sick after eating at a Chipotle restaurant outside of Columbus, Ohio, though officials have yet to determine the cause. The faux Mexican restaurant chain has had a series of issues with food poisoning at its stores over the last three years. (Washington Post)

After more than 27 years leading NAIOP – The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, CEO David Begelfer is leaving and being replaced Reesa Fischer and Tamara Small. Begelfer is a member of the MassINC board.

ARTS

At the Beyond Walls Mural Festival in Lynn, six people shared their stories in a bid to break down walls between residents. (Daily Item)

EDUCATION

Jeff Jacoby says a recent incident at Smith College has been blown far out of proportion by labeling it “naked American racism.” (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Three North Shore hospitals get $1.5 million in state money to train emergency room doctors on how to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction. (Salem News)

Massachusetts is one of the top 10 states in Medicaid spending but the only one that also ranks in the top 10 for health care. (U.S. News & World Report)

Neighborhood Health Plan, which was acquired six years ago by Partners HealthCare, is rebranding itself AllWays Health Partners and looking to compete aggressively in the state’s  employer-sponsored health plan market. (Boston Globe)

Red Sox television announcer Jerry Remy, who has battled recurrences of lung cancer for several years, is again facing treatment for cancer and is off the air indefinitely. (Boston Herald)

TRANSPORTATION

There are lots of differences of opinion over the future of Boston’s Northern Avenue Bridge and who should use it. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the group that was key in derailing the Cape Wind project, is asking the state’s congressional delegation to file legislation declaring the sound a National Historic landmark, which would prevent further development. (Cape Cod Times)

The owner of a controversial proposed gas compressor station on the Fore River in Weymouth has finalized a deal for property where the plant is slated to be built. (Patriot Ledger)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The president of the 11-member Brockton City Council is upset that five councilors who had unsuccessfully pushed to place a ban on recreational pot before voters are holding public forums on zoning regulations for retail marijuana without notifying or including the rest of the council. (The Enterprise)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants, in a Globe op-ed, defends the bail-setting practices of judges who he says often have no choice but to set a reasonable bail that allows defendants to be released — even if the judge believes they may pose a public safety danger.

Lawyers for two Boston City Hall aides whose extortion charges were thrown out in March by a federal district court judge are asking an appeals court to declare the case over after the US attorney’s office, for the third time, requested an extension as it mulls whether to appeal the dismissal. (Boston Herald)

New Boston Police Commissioner William Gross calls youth violence a top priority. (Boston Globe)

A Duxbury man who had previously been charged with impersonating a Homeland Security officer and amassing a cache of weapons in his home has been indicted on child pornography charges for secretly recording underage girls in various stages of undress and extorting them to send him more images. (Patriot Ledger)

Whitman police have created an online map of where crimes are committed in the town over the previous 180 days and will constantly update it so residents know where the criminal activity is occurring. (The Enterprise)