TLC is lining up additional electric Ubers and Lyfts in NYC after last year’s run on signs

Uber and Lyft drivers line up at a Tesla dealership in Brooklyn on November 9, 2023, hoping to get a new car before a court-ordered pause on new license plates for electric car sharing. (Evan Simko-Bednarski / New York Daily News)

The Taxi and Limousine Commission said additional Uber and Lyft electric cars are “not needed at this time” in New York City, following a run on the cars last year that added more than 7,500 EVs to the city’s rideshare fleet added.

The news was quietly announced in the TLC’s annual report on the state of the city’s car rental industry, which was released late Friday.

“Based on [the TLC’s] analysis, the pending litigation over TLC’s decision to issue EV-restricted licenses under the previous License Review, and the need to evaluate the impact of new licenses before determining whether additional licenses should be made available,” it continues report. “TLC notes that additional licenses for rental vehicles are not required at this time.”

Last fall’s run on the coveted TLC license plates, which are needed to accept app-based greetings, came after the New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance filed a lawsuit to block the Adams administration from pre-hire’s 2018 limit customize vehicles to allow unlimited number of cars. number of Ubers and Lyfts, as long as they were electric. The plan was part of the mayor’s so-called Green Rides initiative, intended to make the entire fleet electric by 2030.

The Taxi Workers Alliance argued that the TLC did not have the legal authority to unilaterally change the rules on the number of license plates, and that a slew of new vehicles with TLC plates would saturate the market, hurting existing taxi and yellow cab drivers would harm.

In response, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Machelle Sweeting ordered a temporary halt to the new licenses in November. At the time, Sweeting granted a five-day grace period for those who may have already purchased an electric car. By the end, 9,756 applications had been submitted to the TLC.

New York Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission Commissioner David Do celebrate the introduction of the ‘Green Rides’ rule, which requires the city’s rideshare fleet to be emission-free or wheelchair accessible by 2030, after a unanimous vote from the TLC, at City Hall on Wednesday, October 18, 2023. (Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office)

As previously reported by the Daily News, the new electric cars have brought the total number of electric Ubers and Lyfts citywide to more than 10,000, or about 12% of the fleet.

“The licensing rush caused by the lawsuit resulted in a much faster expansion of electric vehicles in the US [for-hire] fleet than TLC expected,” the agency acknowledged in Friday’s report.

The TLC’s report was widely read as a signal that no new EV license plates would be issued even if the agency won the Taxi Worker Alliance’s lawsuit in court. TLC officials did not say Monday when or if additional EV license plates would be available again.

“We are two years ahead of schedule with our Green Rides initiative,” TLC Commissioner David Do said Monday at an event celebrating the opening of a new technology EV charging hub downtown.

The plan initially called for 5% of all app-based notifications to be served by electric or wheelchair-accessible vehicles by the end of this year. The TLC now appears poised to soon reach its December 2025 target of converting 15% of all trips to electric or accessible vehicles.

In October, when Do first announced the plan alongside Mayor Adams, he had emphasized the TLC’s desire to slowly build up the EV fleet, in part to prevent the city’s charging infrastructure from becoming obsolete.

On Monday, at the opening of a 500 kW, 24-port charging hub run by New York-based company Gravity, Do praised the innovation in charging.

“We need more facilities like this in the future,” he said of the facility.

The charging hub, Gravity’s first open to the public, can provide a range of up to 200 miles in just 5 minutes, depending on an EV’s battery, according to CEO Moshe Cohen.

“This initiative was intended to encourage more electric vehicle infrastructure,” Do said of the city’s EV push, “and that is exactly what it has done.”

See more at New York Daily News

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