The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to approve a minimum wage for drivers of ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber. At the end of this year, drivers will be paid a mandated $17.22 per hour, which accounts for expenses, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The Commission's vote makes New York the first U.S. city to require a minimum wage for drivers, a move ride-sharing companies staunchly opposed. Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild that represents taxi drivers, said the vote sets a new bar for contracted workers in the country.
"Today we brought desperately needed relief to 80,000 working families," he said in a statement. He thanked all parties involved for the help to make pass the rules to become official regulations.
Drivers have rallied for a set minimum wage for years and have accused both Uber and Lyft of taking cuts of drivers' pay. A study funded by the taxi commission found most drivers made $11.90 an hour, which falls well under NYC's $15 per hour minimum wage.
Uber’s director of public affairs, Jason Post, said the minimum wage will increase the cost of rides for users and noted the previous pay scale did not take incentives or bonuses into account. He also said the higher wages will contribute to longer wait times for riders and make congestion more prominent in high-traffic areas of the city.
The pay increase will raise the yearly income of drivers by about $10,000 per year, and commission chair Meera Joshi said New Yorkers will likely stomach the fare increases knowing drivers can better support themselves and their families.