On Friday, Uber sued the city of New York over pieces of legislation that limit the amount of time that drivers can spend cruising the streets waiting for passengers and the amount of for-hire vehicles in the city.
The first rule would eventually restrict drivers to cruising 31 percent of the time, meaning that they would have to carry passengers 69 percent of the time they spend on the streets. In 2018, Reuters notes that Uber drivers in New York City cruised for 41 percent of working hours.
It came in response to increased reporting and data that ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber do not ease congestion, but add to it, as drivers get people to their destinations and then spend time between fares contributing to congestion but not actually getting people anywhere.
Uber, unsurprisingly, doesn’t like the new rule. The company already tries to maximize the amount of time drivers spend bringing in fares, but it also wants to make sure there are enough drivers to satisfy rider demand. Per Reuters:
“The rule would threaten the viability of the ride-sharing model as it currently exists, jeopardizing the benefits this model has created for riders and drivers,” Uber said. It said that while it has “publicly and vocally supported” reducing congestion in Manhattan, the cruising cap was based on “flawed and arbitrary” economics.
Supporters say cruising and licensing caps could help ease traffic tie-ups and free up streets for cyclists, pedestrians and public transit.
Uber also challenged the city’s decision to ban the issuance of new licenses to for-hire vehicles through August of 2020.
“Extending the cap on the issuance of new (for-hire) vehicle licenses for at least the next year in tandem with the cap on cruising is not only legal, it will bring needed relief to congested streets and hardworking drivers,” a spokesman for Mayor Bill De Blasio told Reuters.
New York has always been a focal point in the regulatory fight to take on Uber. While this isn’t even the most important battle Uber has this week, it shows that the company is unwilling to back down in the face of substantial legal and public backlash.