The New York City government has clashed repeatedly with rideshare companies Uber and Lyft. In the past, the City has capped the number of vehicles that drivers working for the two companies can operate there. More recently, it has sought to limit the amount of time that drivers spend without passengers in the car. The new rule reduced the percentage of time from 41 percent to 31 percent throughout most of Manhattan. Similar to the cap on Uber and Lyft vehicles, the limit on “deadheading” time allegedly aimed to reduce congestion in the City.
Uber challenged the new rule on the theory that it lacked a rational basis, and it harmed drivers by reducing their earnings. The rideshare company also claimed that the rule would reduce the availability of Uber vehicles in communities that offer few public transportation options. While the City did not schedule the rule to take effect until February, Uber took certain preliminary measures in response. For example, it prevented drivers from accessing its app in areas with limited demand for Uber services and during certain hours.
A judge of the New York State Supreme Court agreed with Uber, striking down the rule. The judge found that the City should not include the time during which drivers are looking for new passengers in its definition of “cruising.” He also felt that the 31 percent limit was arbitrary and irrational.
New York City has not yet decided whether it will appeal the decision. A spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that the City remains committed to reducing the traffic congestion and environmental issues caused by the proliferation of rideshare vehicles.
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