Judge Lyle Frank called the rules arbitrary and capricious

Judge blocks NYC rule limiting empty Uber & Lyft car

Judge blocks NYC rule limiting empty Uber & Lyft car Uber, Lyft Car (File)

NYC (Channel TT) -- A state judge on Monday struck down a New York City rule expected to take effect next year that would have limited how much time Uber, Lyft and other for-hire vehicles could spend without passengers in the busiest parts of town.

In his decision, state Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank called the city's rules "arbitrary and capricious."

In August, Mayor Bill de Blasio said a rule would be instituted requiring the app companies to have drivers cruising in Manhattan's core areas without passengers only 31% of the time by August 2020, down from the 41% of the time city officials said they were at the time. The city said there would be sanctions for the companies if they didn't reach that target.

The rule would have started in February, with the cap going down to 36%. Critics have spoken out fiercely against the stunning rise of ride-hail vehicles on the city's roadways, saying it has added tremendously to congestion, while supporters say the increase has been vital for people trying to get around.

Frank took issue with how the city would be calculating a vehicle's cruising time, as well as with how the 31% limit was reached.

Uber, which had sued over the rule, said in an emailed statement that it was pleased with the decision and that it was "committed to fighting for driver flexibility in the face of politically-motivated regulations and to stand up for policies that actually combat congestion."

The city indicated it would continue to press for the cap. Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Lapeyrolerie said in an email, "We put these rules in place to protect hardworking drivers and New Yorkers-and we'll fight to keep them."