If you’ve been following the taxi app Uber’s entry into Boston, you know it’s had no shortage of legal issues. First, state authorities ordered it to cease service because it relied on smartphone GPS’s to assess mileage; the state quickly backtracked on that. Then the City of Cambridge sued to reverse the backtracking and ban Uber once and for all. Oh, and then Boston Cab Dispatch sued the company.
Well, Uber has won one of those battles, with Middlesex District Court ruling in its favor in the Cambridge suit, as The Boston Globe reports:
The City of Cambridge then filed suit in Middlesex District Court, contending that the state ruling allowing Uber to continue operating was “unsupported by substantial evidence, arbitrary and capricious” and “an abuse of discretion.”
The court disagreed. “The City has not demonstrated that the [division’s ruling] is in excess of the Division’s statutory authority, is based on an error law, is arbitrary and capricious [or] or is unsupported by substantial evidence,” wrote Judge Bruce Henry in his June 17 decision.
The Cambridge city attorney would not comment to the Globe on the possibility of an appeal.
This is a pleasant outcome for Uber users, though it hardly offers much in the way of legal certainty for the company. My view on the subject hasn’t changed since I first wrote about the state’s decision: taxi regulation needs to be modernized, and applied equally both to services like Uber and to existing taxis. Safety regulations should continue (though the lengthy rules can no doubt be streamlined) but the false scarcity that prevails in the market – via expensive taxi licenses called “medallions” sold by the city of Boston – need to go.
In other words, regulate cabs to ensure that vehicles and drivers are keeping passengers safe, but let the market determine how many cabs should be on the road. (The result would be lower prices.)
In any case, this is a significant win for Uber, but not the last of its legal troubles.