After Bill de Blasio takes office later this week as New York City's new mayor, one of the first things on his to-do list, supposedly, is to get rid of Central Park's iconic horse-drawn buggies.
Horse-drawn carriage rides have been a popular Central Park activity since 1935. But animal rights groups have begun to protest the rides on the grounds that the rides are inhumane towards the horses, which have to navigate traffic and are sometimes injured or abused. Carriage drivers and stable owners, on the other hand, argue that the horses support livelihoods. A 45-minute carriage ride costs $110 to $165, and the industry generates about $19 million annually, Politico reports.
De Blasio says old-timey electric cars can replace that revenue stream. According to Politico, however, the carriage drivers' union doesn't plan to readily accept that decision:
For now, the local Teamsters chapter is making a calculated decision to oppose replacement of the carriages but not to fight the proposed vintage electric cars themselves, said Demos Demopoulos, secretary/treasurer and executive officer of Teamsters Local #553.
“We are against the thought of the electric car replacing the horse carriage industry,” said Demopoulos, dismissing the idea that the horse-carriage drivers could be attracted to jobs created by the car program.
”These are all horse people,” he said. “This is what they do.”
De Blasio and his team haven't commented on when these changes might take place, but it seems to only be a matter of time before the horses are off the streets. In the meantime, demand for horse-drawn rides has reportedly spiked as tourists and locals alike rush in for a chance to take one last buggy ride through the park.
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