Uber filed a lawsuit against New York City Friday in an effort to overturn rules limiting the amount of time ride-hail drivers can spend in busy parts of the city. It was the second time this year that Uber has sued New York City.
The suit comes a month after the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved an extension on its cap on the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles permitted to operate within the city. The moratorium on new vehicle licenses now extends until August 2020.
The commission also amended its rules aimed at limiting the amount of time drivers can cruise without passengers in Manhattan below 96th Street. Under the new rules, Uber and Lyft must reduce deadheading — or the amount of time drivers spend without passengers in the car — from 41 percent to 31 percent.
The vote by the TLC wasn’t a surprise; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this year he wanted the cap extended for another year to prevent app companies from “taking advantage of hardworking drivers, choking our streets with congestion, and driving workers into poverty.”
A spokesperson for the mayor said the rules limiting cruising “will bring needed relief to congested streets and hardworking drivers. The City’s rules makes our streets safer and is in the best interest of all New Yorkers.”
In response to the new rules, Uber has been limiting drivers’ access to the app. The company now is locking drivers out during certain times of the day and in areas of low demand. Uber has accused the city of harming driver earnings and slashing service in low-income communities that are underserved by public transportation.
“Drivers’ flexibility is already being threatened by Mayor de Blasio’s regulations, and the cruising cap will only make that worse,” a spokesperson for Uber said. “This arbitrary rule used a flawed economic model, did not take into account how drivers are affected by previous regulations, is preempted by the state and was voted on despite the objection of City Council members and community groups.”
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