Bill de Blasio’s attempts to deliver on his promise to ban Central Park’s horse and carriage industry on “day one” of his mayoralty have produced little more than a federal investigation into the animal-rights interest group backing his candidacy. Now, the mayor is obligated to give those very same drivers raises.
As it turns out, the price of taking a carriage ride is set by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs. Last week, the department raised the price as part of a deal made during Michael Bloomberg’s administration that had been put on hold. The New York Daily News reports:
Drivers can now charge $54.08 for the first 20 minutes of a ride, and $21.63 for every 10 minutes after. Before the rate hike, the drivers were allowed to charge $50 for the first 20 minutes, and $20 for every 10 minutes after.
Drivers who are medallion owners currently get to keep the whole fare, and those who lease keep about $20. Their new amount has yet to be worked out.
The boost amounts to an 8% hike, and came about because of a City Council bill six years ago that guaranteed drivers cost-of-living increases.
The fare hike was a “byproduct of a City Council bill that passed several years ago,” City Hall spokesman Austin Finan told the Daily News. “No mayor has done more to protect horses, and this rate increase does not stand in the way of the mayor’s steadfast commitment to removing carriages from city streets.”
After overwhelmingly voting down the mayor’s proposed ban in February, City Hall renewed the drivers’ licenses in March, allowing them to operate for at least the next two years. Meanwhile, the animal-rights group NYCLASS, whose founders backed de Blasio during the 2013 mayoral election and which spent nearly a quarter-million dollars against former Speaker Christine Quinn (Mayor Bloomberg’s anointed heir), has been subpoenaed by the FBI.
All of that being the case, it’s not clear how the mayor plans to deliver on his “steadfast commitment” to the horse and carriage ban. City Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.