friday, 20 september of 2019

Uber

Uber Sues City Over Cruising Cap, Court Records Show: US

Uber is suing the city over a new policy limiting the time its drivers can spend driving around Manhattan without passengers, claiming in a lawsuit that the measure is "arbitrary and capricious."

The ride-share company will file suit against the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in Manhattan Supreme Court Friday to contest a new law, unanimously approved in August by the TLC, that implements a "cruising cap" on Uber drivers, court records show.

"Drivers' flexibility is already being threatened by Mayor de Blasio's regulations, and the cruising cap will only make that worse," Uber spokesperson Harry Hartfield said Friday in a statement.

"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 Councilmembers and community groups."

The law which Uber hopes to challenge aims at reducing congestion by putting a 31 percent cap on the time for-hire vehicles may drive without a passenger below Manhattans' 96th Street during high-traffic periods. For-hire vehicle drivers currently spend 41 percent of their time "cruising" in Manhattan's core, according to the TLC.

City Hall's supporters say the policy will ease congestion, freeing up the roads for pedestrians, buses and cyclists, and prevent drivers from spending time roaming the streets while not being paid for their work.

"For too long, the status quo has been gamed by companies who flood our streets, depress driver incomes and make it harder for the rest of us to get around," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in August while announcing the new policy. "Those days are over."

The TLC did not immediately respond to Patch's request for comment.

But Uber claims the 31 percent figure is not backed by hard data, that they have asked TLC for modeling on the ramifications of the policy on driver pay to no avail, and that the agency has not taken the requisite time to study the measure before implementing it.

"The August 2019 Rule is the product of a rushed and unlawful process, including reliance on flawed and arbitrary economic modeling, which was designed to arrive at a predetermined result that is likely not even feasible," reads the lawsuit in part.

"No city in the country has implemented an FHV Cruising Cap setting cruising at any level, yet the City selected its Cruising Cap number arbitrarily without even considering less restrictive options, without consulting with the affected companies about its impact as it was determining what level Cap to adopt, and without even evaluating the impact of the TLC's prior regulations."

The ride-sharing company also alleges the city doesn't have the authority to handle congestion-related policies, citing as evidence the state's implementation of congestion pricing, which Uber claims "preempt[s]" the city's for-hire vehicle policy.

The lawsuit, which states the new rule "would threaten the viability of the ridesharing model as it currently exist," comes after last week Uber said it would not allow drivers to work when demand for rides is low.

Uber is not the only entity to raise concerns about the policy or the timing of its implementation.

In August, 11 Council members sent a letter to the TLC asking that it not implement the new policy before a commissioner for the agency was approved by the City Council. Mayor Bill de Blasio initially appointed Jeffrey Roth as the commissioner but temporarily "temporarily" withdrew his nomination after a City Council confirmation hearing during which the body's members were left unimpressed.

This is the second time in recent memory that Uber and the de Blasio administration have clashed in the courtroom. After in August 2018 de Blasio signed a legislative package that put a halt to the issuance of new for hire-vehicle licenses, Uber challenged the cap in court six months later.

(Published by Patch, September 20 2019)
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