Sharing economy's revolving door: NYC Taxi regulator moves to Uber

The ride-sharing company got a powerful new player: The deputy commissioner of NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission

By Sarah Gray
Published May 20, 2014 6:20PM (EDT)
      (<a href=''>mezzotint</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>/Salon)
(mezzotint via Shutterstock/Salon)

New York City and ride-sharing company Uber have had a topsy-turvy relationship -- first the cab-on-demand app was allowed, then it was banned, then approved -- and now the two are cozier than ever.

Today, the New York Times reported that Ashwini Chhabra, deputy commissioner of New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, was moving to Uber. According to the Times, Chhabra will be Uber's first head of policy development and  community engagement.

"Uber is growing at an incredible rate and Ashwini is joining us to focus on turning complex policy questions into smart answers and scalable solutions," an Uber spokesperson told Salon in an email.

The fear in New York city is that taxi riders without access to smartphone technology would be left unable to hail cabs in the city. However, those qualms seem to have been quieted after a report that was released last week, saying that "e-hails accounted for less than one in every 200 yellow-cab pickups," according to the Times. Currently four "e-hail," as it is termed, apps have been approved including Uber and Hailo.

The move could be a way for cities and the sharing economy to work through differences, of which there have been quite a few in cities like Seattle. However, the move itself represents the issues that government has with the so-called revolving door.  It resembles the fraught practice of government officials swapping immediately into the corporate sphere, and the rise of special interests having ties to government entities. Now with Chhabra's ties to the government side, Uber has a powerful lobbying tool.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Government Lobbyists New York City Revolving Door Sharing Economy Taxi Technology Uber