NYC Judge Rules that Uber Street Hails are Ok

by Sean Riley

Biz Journal

All hail the e-hail. That's the upshot of a ruling Wednesday by a state Supreme Court judge in Queens, who sided with Uber, Lyft and other app-based transit companies in their continuing fight with traditional taxi industry.

Justice Allan Weiss dismissed lawsuits that challenged Uber and the others, alleging they were operating illegally by taking street hails via apps.

"Uber-type companies are a new form of black car companies, and the TLC, having the authority to promote technological innovation and new services may, where necessary, treat the new companies somewhat different from the traditional companies," Weiss said in court papers, adding that these companies "may not fit neatly into the traditional black car regulatory and the TLC must be allowed a reasonable amount of administrative discretion in applying rules as new circumstances arise."

If it stands, Weiss' decision opens the possibility that the yellow-cab medallions, valued at over $2 billion two years ago, could crash in value.

“In this day and age, even with public utilities, investors must always be wary of new forms of competition arising from technological developments,” Weiss wrote in a 13-page ruling against Glyca Transportation and other medallion companies.

Weiss threw out a trio of challenges to Uber and other e-hail app from luxury car services and the Committee for Taxi Safety, a trade group representing driver-owners of medallion cabs.

The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, which has been trying to find a middle ground between the various ground transportation companies — sometimes praised by Uber and its ilk, and sometimes applauded by taxi interests — applauded Weiss' ruling.

"This decision is a victory for the riding public, and leaves no question as to the appropriateness of our regulatory approach to app-dispatched services," TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said in a statement. "Passengers will remain free to continue to enjoy the many transportation options available to them, whether new, more traditional, or both."

The plaintiffs plan to appeal, but say that in the meantime their industry is being destroyed. [MORE]