In a considerable victory for NYC’s horse and carriage drivers, the New York City Council today refused to vote on a controversial bill that would have decreased the number of horses by more than half and moved the entire fleet to Central Park.
The City Council announced their decision now to vote after the Teamsters union withdrew their support for the proposal, which is backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
While the bill, Intro. 573-B, was considered a step up from de Blaio’s initial campaign promise to do away with the horse and carriage industry entirely, replacing them with a fleet of electric vintage cars, its detractors argued that its conditions would still put the future of the industry in jeopardy.
"The Teamsters' first priority is always our members and their livelihoods," said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, in a statement. "With the legislation now finalized, our members are not confident that it provides a viable future for their industry. We cannot support the horse carriage bill currently before the City Council."
The proposed legislation would have gone into effect this summer, immediately implementing route restrictions while the Central Park stables were under construction, and it would have cut the number of horses in the fleet from 220 to 75 by 2018.
The bill also angered New York’s pedicab drivers, who, in order to avoid competition, would have been restricted to operating above 86th Street in Central Park.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that the plan had been “negotiated in good faith and was contingent on an agreement between the administration, the Teamsters and the City Council. The Council will not vote on any horse carriage related legislation on Friday since the Teamsters no longer support the deal.”
The fate of the carriage horses, which has hung in the balance since de Blasio took office in January 2014, is far from decided, however.
In a statement, de Blasio said "The terms of that agreement have not changed during these past weeks, but today the Teamsters decided to back away from the fair compromise they had previously endorsed. While we are disappointed this bill will no longer be considered Friday, the people of this city know what I believe, and we will work toward a new path on this issue."
What do you think would be a good solution to the carriage horse industry debate? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.