NYC carriage drivers furious over plan to replace them with cars

The pro- and anti-carriage horse debate is nothing new–but could New York's new mayor pose a real threat to the industry?

[top image: Wikimedia Commons]

Yep, that's right–New York City mayor Bill de Blasio wants to replace the city's carriage drivers with vintage-inspired electric-powered cars. Something along these lines:


[Wikimedia Commons]

As you might imagine, carriage drivers are less than pleased about their livelihood being taken away, and they're fighting the switch. But they're also confused.

“There would be a novelty factor for a little bit,” said Christina Hansen, who is a carriage driver and liaison for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City, “but who wants to ride a car in New York City?”

De Blasio's plan would offer these electric buggies for lease or purchase to the carriage owners, who currently loan out their horse-drawn carriages to about 300 drivers.

The mayor and others from Miley Cyrus to Georgina Bloomberg have spoken out against the tradition of carriage rides in the city, citing inhumane conditions and the inherent danger of city streets.

According to Fox News, de Blasio said. “They are not humane, they are not appropriate for the year 2014. It's over. So, just watch us do it.”

From a speech last month:

[Donald Moss]


[Wikimedia Commons]

De Blasio's critics believe the push to end horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park is motivated by money and politics, not animal welfare. It's speculated that de Blasio may be trying to pay back a favor from Steven Nislick, a prominent backer of New Yorkers for Clean Livable & Safe Streets, an organization that opposes the carriages, and campaigned against de Blasio's opponent in the Democratic mayoral primaries.

And on the other side, carriage drivers insist that conditions are humane. True, the horses don't exactly get hundreds of acres of turnout in the city. But drivers must undergo a written and practical test before getting their license, and comply with strict regulations, including at least five weeks of mandatory vacation time for the horses, according to and a ban on rides when it's under 19 degrees or over 89 degrees.

What do you think, Horse Nation? Would you ride in an electric buggy to spare the horses, or do you believe they are treated humanely now?



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