Lyft sues NYC over limits on driver 'cruising'

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
REUTERS/Mike Segar

Uber isn't the only one suing New York City to demand looser rules for ridesharing drivers. Lyft has sued NYC in a bid to end a rule that limits the amount of time drivers can "cruise" in Manhattan (that is, drive without passengers). The 31 percent cap on cruising time for most vehicles before 11PM is based on "outdated, unreliable data" from the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Lyft claimed. It likewise argued that the rule "unfairly" excluded taxis from the cap and that this could hurt transportation for underserved areas.

A spokeswoman told CNET that the TLC took a "rushed, arbitrary" approach and hadn't made a "serious attempt" to reduce traffic. She reiterated Lyft's position that "comprehensive congestion pricing" would be more effective.

The Commission, unsurprisingly, intended to fight the lawsuit. It characterized Lyft's move as an "attack" on congestion reduction efforts, and accused ridesharing firms like Lyft and Uber of having "stacked the deck" against drivers by loading the streets with ridesharing contractors in a "race to the bottom."

Lyft's arguments aren't new, but its lawsuit shows its determination. Like Uber, it's convinced that NYC's recently extended rules (which include a limit on the total number of ridesharing drivers) are capricious, if not an attempt to shelter the taxi industry from cheaper and more tech-savvy competition. It doesn't have much to lose. While the measures aren't necessarily permanent, the rules put definite limits on how much money Lyft and its peers can earn.