NYC Affirms Uber's Right to Chauffeur Smartphone Owners

On demand car service Uber is handy in a pinch (or a lightning storm), but it's pissed off traditional cab drivers. Many are afraid they'll be driven out of a job—or "disrupted," in Valley-speak—but are losing in big markets like DC. Add New York to the non-elite defeat.

Judge Carol Huff of the New York County Supreme Court shut down a petition on behalf of drivers that get passengers the old fashioned way—that is to say, without a smartphone. Huff claims, devastatingly, that “Petitioners are, with one exception, an elderly person who does not own a smartphone, entities that represent or have financial interests in businesses that operate vehicles known as black cars or livery or for-hire cars."

In other words, geezers who don't get it. Why won't they just let themselves be disrupted? Aren't they just a bunch of racists who won't drive you to Brooklyn, anyway? Huff states that Uber is, if anything, less discriminatory than an old school ride: "The [Uber] driver must accept an e-hail without knowing the passenger’s identity or destination." On Uber, nobody knows you're black, so it must be more fair.

But Uber drivers do know you're well-off to afford the service's regularly-inflated fares—what the startup calls "surge pricing" when things get busy—that can spike into double the price you'd normally pay. Outside of startup land, that's called gouging, and a flavor of discrimination unto itself. Huff doesn't address what might happen once a city's (already pricey) drivers convert to Uber and into the realm of surge pricing, and downmarket passengers are priced out of a ride on that rainy day.

Read the full dismissal below.

Ehail Decision NYC Decisions.courts.state.ny.Us Fcas Fcas Docs 2013APR 3001003272013001SCIV by Sam Biddle