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Judge tosses Uber lawsuit against NYC’s for-hire vehicle cap

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Uber filed the lawsuit against the city in February

A black car with the Uber and Lyft logos drives around NYC. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Back in February, Uber sued New York City for implementing a yearlong moratorium on the number of for-hire vehicles allowed in the city, asking for the law to be overturned. Now, a few months after the cap was extended, a judge has dismissed Uber’s lawsuit, the New York Post first reported.

The law, which the City Council passed in August 2018, required the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to conduct a one-year study on the possibility of regulating the number of for-hire vehicle licenses and to stop issuing new for-hire vehicle licenses for that year. The study, which was released in June, found that reductions on FHV-related traffic could “meaningfully impact overall traffic conditions.” The one-year cap was then extended this past summer.

Uber’s lawsuit argued, among other things, that the city exceeded its authority in enacting the law because the state allows the city to cap taxis but not app-based or other for-hire vehicles. But Judge Lyle E. Frank said in his decision to toss the lawsuit that the City Council acted within its rights when it allowed TLC to adjust the number of for-hire vehicle licenses.

“We are grateful the court has again recognized the TLC’s power to address the problems that companies like Uber have created by flooding the streets of NYC,” Bill Heinzen, acting TLC commissioner, said in a statement. “Drivers are bringing home an additional $750 a month on average because we fought back against their tactics, and the Mayor and TLC will continue to fight for less congestion and better pay for drivers.”

But Uber says that drivers are now forced to spend money on renting vehicles.

“We’re disappointed that the TLC’s cap that punishes drivers who are forced to rent vehicles will remain in effect,” Harry Hartfield, an Uber spokesperson, said in a statement.

Taxi workers have long supported measures like the cap on for-hire vehicles to reduce the amount of vehicles driving around the city, as they face crippling amounts of debt due to a dramatic decrease in the value of medallions.

“This cap has been life saving and the basis for any group of drivers—Uber or yellow cab— to come out of poverty and instability,” Bhairavi Desai, New York Taxi Workers Alliance executive director, said in a statement. “Uber and Lyft have saturated the streets on drivers’ backs. They lost on this issue and need to stop wasting everyone’s time and money fighting it.”

Back in September, Uber also sued the city on a recently-enacted cruising cap to reduce the number of vehicles that drive around Manhattan’s central business district without passengers. Lyft joined in suing the city as well for the cruising cap earlier this month.