Drivers and passengers will lose out on the Green Rides rule

Our green economy is the future of New York’s workforce, but the new Green Rides rule could hurt rideshare drivers. Mayor Adams and the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) recently approved the Green Rides rule which now officially requires all Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing vehicles to be electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030.

These steps, while environmentally understandable, will hurt working-class commuters and could lead to even more congestion in the city. This administration is not doing nearly enough to provide charging infrastructure, nor is it providing any incentives or programs to help ride-sharing drivers purchase electric vehicles.

First, let’s talk about drivers. Driving a ride-sharing vehicle is hard work—often requiring 10 or more hours a day of driving across five boroughs. A huge proportion of the roughly 100,000 TLC-licensed rideshare drivers are first-generation Americans.

Carpooling provides working class and immigrant communities with a tremendous opportunity to gain financial stability and upward economic mobility for themselves and their families. The ride-sharing sector is not only a major source of employment for hard-working people, it is also a key part of our city’s economy, transportation systems, and a necessity for all New Yorkers.

While this green initiative is great for the environment, the green that is missing is money. Electric cars are an expensive purchase for drivers. While drivers can earn higher fares for driving EVs, there is still considerable concern that drivers would not be able to afford to own EVs in the first place or survive the competition.

Then there is the issue of charging stations. Currently, there are not enough chargers to support electric vehicles on the road – especially in the neighborhoods where most of our 100,000 shared drivers live. As of now, New York City has only about two dozen public fast chargers for 12,500 EVs towards. While the city plans to build up to 13 new fast charging stations, only one will be located in the Bronx, even though that’s where a large portion of our drivers live.

How are the 13 new stations supposed to service all the added volume when a sufficiently charged vehicle takes more than half an hour and often longer? Drivers would have to wait in long lines, clog streets and take available cars off the road just to charge their cars and start their shift. All this lost time would result in lost wages, which drivers cannot afford.

Lack of access to charging infrastructure will result in a number of inconveniences and expenses and will only make it more difficult to find a carpool.

If we continue at the rate we are now, all our city will have to show for the transition to EVs is a lot of cars with dead batteries, a lot of drivers making less than today, longer wait times for riders – and more congestion. Those concerns were voiced by many drivers from across the city at a city council hearing with TLC in September. Don’t listen to the city thing.

For New York to successfully transition to electric vehicles, the mayor and TLC must create a robust rollout plan that takes into account the costs and infrastructure needs of ride-sharing drivers who successfully operate and own electric vehicles. Such planning must include more charging stations in all five boroughs and incentives for ride-sharing drivers to buy affordable electric vehicles.

New York is already there the most expensive city rent a carpool – we can’t keep making it more expensive. After all, most people who rideshare here are New Yorkers who just want to get home, to work, and enjoy all that our city has to offer. Carpooling has become an essential part of daily life for so many New Yorkers, so we cannot allow this initiative to make this transit option inaccessible.

New York should never relinquish its global leadership in fighting climate change and reducing carbon emissions from vehicles on our streets, but hard-working New Yorkers cannot be left behind. We are increasingly concerned that our mayor is pushing the rule without proactively establishing the infrastructure and incentives that support our workers.

While we want and need to use electric vehicles, we need to ensure that drivers have the charge and financial incentives they need to successfully use them.

Farias is a member of the Bronx City Council. De La Cruz is a Buggy driver from the Bronx.

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