Less than a month after Uber sued New York City over rules that cap cruising times for its drivers, its rival Lyft filed its own suit urging the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to nullify its “irrational and highly damaging cruising rule.”
The new rule, which the TLC voted to enact in August, aims to slash congestion in Manhattan below 96th Street by limiting the time drivers for app-based ride-hailing companies are allowed to spend without passengers. The rule would require companies to reduce cruising empty times to 36 percent by February and 31 percent by August. For-hire vehicles spent 41 percent of their time on the road idling without passengers, according to the TLC.
But Lyft’s lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court on Friday, charges that the rule is based on a TLC study that used “outdated, unreliable data” and did not comprehensively study if those reductions are actually achievable. The San Francisco-based company argues that because the rule does not apply to taxis the change unfairly shifts business away from ride-hail companies.
“Lyft supports comprehensive congestion pricing, which is the most effective way to reduce traffic,” Lyft spokesperson Campbell Matthews said in a statement. “But the TLC’s rushed, arbitrary approach would be a significant step backwards for transportation in New York City, which for years has suffered from an inefficient taxi medallion system created by the TLC. This rule is not a serious attempt to address congestion, and would hurt riders and drivers in New York.”
TLC did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told Crain’s that it is ready to defend against “another attack on the city’s consistent efforts to reduce congestion.”
“We will vigorously defend against this suit, and we will continue to fight for safer, less congested streets and for drivers’ rights,” a spokesperson for TLC said in a statement.
Uber contested the rule in September, along with another cap on new licenses for for-hire vehicles through August 2020. The company argued against the cruising cap on similar grounds, charing in a New York State Supreme Court lawsuit that the rule was the product of a “rushed and unlawful process” and that the final 31 percent target is “extremely ambitious” and based on a “deeply flawed economic model.”
City Hall spokesperson Seth Stein told Curbed at the time that the de Blasio administration “will continue fighting for the people of New York City against a company that seeks to put profit first, and the people and drivers they serve last.”