Nasty political ads are normally reserved for election season, and while it may still be a bit early for 2016 presidential candidates to start slinging mud, it’s never too early for Uber to start a fight. The car service company is no stranger to controversy and controversial methods, and now, the transportation giant has launched a massive campaign against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his new proposed bill that would limit the number of for-hire vehicle licenses issued in the city. In addition to an in-app de Blasio feature that makes wait times for Uber rides considerably longer than customers are accustomed to (or entirely unavailable), on Friday, Uber also premiered a television ad claiming that de Blasio’s “proposal will destroy 10,000 jobs.” Ever an advocate of the dramatics, Uber and its flair for showmanship knows no bounds.
The crux of this latest city feud stems from a proposed bill that would cap the number of new drivers Uber could add in New York at 201 over the course of the next year, which the de Blasio administration claims will help them complete a survey of the impact of for-hire vehicle services across the city. According to the mayor, the sheer number of new cars that are added to already congested New York City streets due because services like Uber not only make traffic worse, but also add to pollution and other potentially negative effects. Said First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris, “We cannot afford to have unlimited, unregulated growth of Uber. We have real concerns about congestion. We are already seeing traffic speeds in Manhattan falling, [and] that is already having an impact on the city’s economy, on air quality and potentially an impact on public safety … at least one reason why that might be true is the enormous growth of Uber.”
And while these may be salient concerns, Uber has fought back with accusations of their own, claiming that de Blasio and company are pawns of the yellow cab market, simply looking to cater to the needs of a very specific subset of the New York City populace. As such, it has implemented a de Blasio feature for Uber users in New York, which tells hapless passengers that there are “No cars available.” If the user clicks through that message, they then see the following: “This is what Uber will look like in NYC if Mayor de Blasio’s Uber cap bill passes.”
Entirely accurate? No. Relatively effective? We’ve yet to find out.