Uber, Lyft May Still Be Subject to Driver-Base Agreements If New City Hall Bill Passes

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
November 20, 2014 6:46 pm Last Updated: November 21, 2014 2:25 pm

The Taxi and Limousine Commission passed a new rule Thursday that would require livery bases to keep trip data electronically and submit the data to the commission regularly.

Bases are currently already required to keep the data, and share it with TLC upon request. 

TLC proposed the rules as a set of accountability measures last month to better align with Vision Zero, the city’s traffic safety plan. A dispatch rule that would require agreements from bases using drivers affiliated with another base was highly protested and thus left out.

Lyft, for-hire drivers, and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opposed the agreement rule. The argument was that bases would not allow drivers to drive for other bases or apps, and thus limit competition. Livery base representatives testified the industry was open to the agreements but the rule was ultimately dropped.

Schneiderman applauded the amended rules in a statement Wednesday, saying it would “increase driver efficiency, lower the cost of entry for new services, and encourage more competition in the taxi industry.” But the agreements may still become a requirement. 

On Thursday, City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said he would be introducing a bill to require bases to have agreements with other bases their drivers are affiliated with. 

“With these agreements drivers, bases, and sharing services all win,” Rodriguez said.

Livery representatives are in support of requiring agreements. It would allow for better coordination so drivers don’t get double-booked, said Tarek Mallah, General Manager of the Livery Round Table, and owner of Dial-7 Car and Limousine Services. 

Data

At a public hearing last month, Uber protested only against the data-sharing rule. Lyft, riders, and street safety organizations voiced support for the data collection, which will aid collision investigations. Yellow and green cabs already do this. 

Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber New York, said it would be an invasion of rider privacy. 

Incidentally, the company has been under fire the past week for privacy concerns. Uber wrote a blog post analyzing trip data and showing just how much information the company keeps on its users, and Mohrer is under investigation for tracking a journalist. 

In light of Uber’s blog post, the Center for Democracy & Technology wrote TLC a letter ahead of the vote with concerns about collecting the data in bulk. CDT urged the agency to ensure driver and rider anonymity in the data sets, which would be publicly accessible.