What has been referred to as "Governor Cuomo's" bill has become law and allows Transportation Network Companies ("TNC"'s) like Uber and Lyft to drop off passengers in any of the 5 boros of the City of New York. While the law prohibits what is known as point-to-point transportation within NYC (pick up and drop off in any of the 5 boros of NYC), and prohibits pick-ups in NYC to any destination outside of NYC. Unlike other for-hire vehicles, Uber and Lyft (and other TNCs) will not be required to have special plates. In the old days, a vehicle with "straight plates" that picked up passengers would be considered to be "illegal gypsy cabs". I guess we have come a long way since the "good old days". While the law is supposed to evolve over time and should never stand still, this is a law that defies common sense. Does it make sense to have a vehicle that picks up a person and is paid for transportation to not have special plates like other FHV? Does it make sense to allow TNC's, who provide the same transportation as other as other car/limo services in NYC to not be regulated in the same manner? Does it make sense to kill off the taxi industry in the process of creating TNCs? Will TNC's really create jobs upstate. Does it make sense for the DMV to regulate TNC? Is the creation of TNC's in this manner the best way to provide the state with more transportation options? These are the tough questions that should have ben answered by lawmakers, but I guess it does not matter much to them as Uber and Lyft are here and here to stay.
Since Uber and Lyft are here to stay, lets look at the issue of regulation. One pat of the industry is heavily regulated and another part that provides identical service is not regulated. What a load of shit. Uber sold the state lawmakers and The Gov on this bill of goods. Uber sold the state lawmakers on the idea that they are the Salvation Army out to help the people. If you buy this, then you may want to consider buying a wonderful bridge I have for sale in Brooklyn. Lets look at the reality of enforcement of the prohibitions of this law because the devil is always in the details.
It will surely be a tremendous challenge for law enforcement (particularly the inept NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission) to identify TNC vehicles attempting illegal pick-ups while in NYC. How can enforcement identify such vehicles with ease when they have “straight plates”. Trip data from the TNC's may be exempt from disclosure under the state law. Also, a federal court recently declared the previously-longstanding practice of seizing unlicensed FHV's to be illegal. Unless there is a traffic violation, what basis would a cop or NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission enforcement agent have for stopping a TNC vehicle.
The future of the NYC for-hire industry is in the balance. While the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission should develop effective enforcement plan to prevent TNC from illegally operating in NYC, the reality is that such is unlikely. The regulators job is to regulate what they have authority over and that is the rest of the NYC licensed bases. So the NYC regulators will likely impose more and more burdensome regulations on local car services, which will surely put many more out of business and make the rest, who are able to compete, to be at a severe disadvantage. The only way to level the playing field and to be fair to all is to deregulate the entire industry...or at least hold NYC bases to the same standards of operation and enforcement as the TNCs. To do otherwise is an affront to the free market and a slap in the face to one of the pillars of our society....that all should be treated equally and all are entitled to fair play and substantial justice.
After practicing law for the past 20 years I can honestly say that I have become a bit bitter, jaded and cynical, at least when it comes to the law and justice. Most people simply do not realize that justice does not automatically happen. People are part of the system. Those people include lawmakers and judges. Most of all, those people include the electorate. State lawmakers and state executives like The Gov are elected leaders and they are not placed (or continue to be placed) in a leadership position unless they are elected or re-elected. Th best way to have your voice heard is to call your local assembly person or state senator, write a letter to The Gov, call the hotlines, go on social media, etc., etc.......but do something because doing nothing is not going to lead to anything good in the short or long run.