I live in Queens and drive with Uber. I work hard to support my family and I take pride in being a driver, which is why I maintain a driver rating of almost 4.9.
But this cap creates a huge financial burden for me because it blocks me from getting a FHV license for the car that I own. Instead, I’m forced to rent one that already has a license - costing me more than $400 a month - while my car sits unused on the street.
Because of this cap and the monthly fees I have to pay in order to drive, I am unable to save money in case of an emergency, to send my children to college, or to hopefully someday be able to retire.
When the original cap, which was meant to be temporary and last for one year, went into effect last year, I was concerned about having to continue to pay these monthly fees, but was hopeful that I’d be able to get a license after it expired this August.
But that hope was dashed when Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would extend the cap for another year, with the ability to continue extending it on an ongoing basis in future years.
Many of my fellow drivers are in the same situation that I am. If we were able to license our own cars, we’d be able to save the huge monthly fees that go towards renting each month. But now there is no way to know when, or if, we’ll ever be able to do this.
Many of these drivers are, like me, immigrants and people of color who already struggle to make ends meet for their families and themselves. This cap just adds another roadblock for us, and creates uncertainty over whether we’ll ever be able to go to bed at night without having to worry about how we’ll pay our bills.
And it’s not just drivers this cap is hurting. Uber and other app-based companies provide reliable service to people who live in the outer boroughs, which yellow cabs neglected for years. Extending the cap on FHV licenses will only hurt these New Yorkers.
The city says it wants to help drivers, but its actions aren’t saving us from going deeper into financial ruin. Top-down actions without consulting drivers like me in any way doesn’t work.
If the city truly wants to help us, it should work with drivers and the ride-hail app companies to figure out the best solution.
Brary Guerrero is a Queens-based Uber driver.