Uber – the maker of a popular smartphone application that allows you to summon a black car, taxi, or SUV with the push of a button – is under fire from regulators and the taxi lobby in Chicago, as new rules proposed by the commissioner of the City’s Department of Business of Affairs would make it impossible for Uber to operate its signature black-car service.
Specifically, one of the proposed rules would prohibit black cars – and all cars categorized as “public passenger vehicles” other than taxis – from using any device, mechanical or otherwise, that measures passenger fares based on distance and/or time traveled. This, of course, would deprive drivers of any reasonable means to calculate the fares they charge, including even a clock, map or pocket calculator. It would also prevent drivers from being affiliated with Uber, which combines all of these functions in an iPhone app – and reduce their incomes accordingly.
On November 9, the Liberty Justice Center submitted comments opposing this draft rule, which is unconstitutional because it does nothing to protect the public’s health, safety or welfare. On the contrary, the proposed rule would harm people who drive a vehicle for a living, harm Uber, and harm the public by discouraging innovation and depriving them of choices.
LJC pursues cases in state and federal court against governments and government officials that abuse or exceed their legal authority, primarily in the areas of individual rights, economic liberty and property rights. In our view, the City’s proposed rule would be unconstitutional and is the kind of measure we would seek to challenge in court.