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Uber to operate freely as federal judge curbs state’s restrictions

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Mérida, Yucatán — An unexpected ruling from a federal judge questions the constitutionality of Yucatán’s attempt to regulate Uber.

It also sets aside state regulations, allowing Uber and its drivers to operate freely while the court examines the state laws.

Uber had challenged 2016 transportation laws that attempted to level the playing field for traditional taxi drivers.

Yucatán’s law limited the number of drivers who can be work on the platform, required that they own the cars they drive, meaning one car couldn’t be shared by multiple drivers working shifts. A ride-share car must be worth at least 200,000 pesos and be under seven years old, according to the regulation.

In May, eight members of Mexico’s Supreme Court sided with Yucatán’s regulators. But Second Specialized Collegiate Court Judge Rafaela Franco wants time to investigate how much the state can intervene with a private business and its drivers.

Last April, a similar law in Jalisco was invalidated by the same court.

In the eyes of the state, Uber has technically been an underground business, its drivers at risk of having their cars impounded.

The ruling is also the opposite to what a European Union court recently found when it declared Uber the equivalent to a taxicab company.

It could take more than a year for the review of all 10 articles of the state transportation law. The court has not said which aspects of the law are under scrutiny.

When Uber expanded into Mérida more than a year ago, they immediately clashed with the taxi union, which cried foul and approached lawmakers to protect their industry. They were also immediately popular with younger riders, particularly tourists, who were more comfortable summoning a car with a smartphone app than with a phone.

Forty-four cities in Mexico allow Uber to compete with licensed, traditional taxis.

With information from Reforma

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