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Jul 18, 2017 11:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Taxi Companies Sue Over Uber, Lyft Laws

Jul 18, 2017 2:22 PM

An association representing taxicab owners on Long Island has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn legislation adopted by state lawmakers last spring that allowed ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to start operating statewide.

The Nassau and Suffolk Taxi Owners Association, a consortium of companies that includes the company that operates Lindy’s Taxi in East Hampton, filed the suit in federal court on June 27, the day the state ride-sharing legislation took effect.

The suit claims that the new rules for ride-sharing put taxicab drivers at an unfair economic disadvantage because of the paucity of regulations and fees imposed on part-time drivers who work for ride-sharing companies, while taxi drivers must bear substantial financial and legal burdens to maintain licenses.

“[The plaintiffs] are still subject to all local county, town and village regulations and, as such, the enactment of this law will make it impossible to economically compete with [ride-sharing companies] in the for-hire transportation industry,” the lawsuit reads. It goes on to say that what it calls the arbitrary distinction between ride-sharing and other for-hire vehicles has created “a two-tiered system that violates the plaintiff’s rights to equal protection.”

The lawsuit claims that the parent companies of ride-sharing drivers are allowed to essentially self-regulate enforcement of compliance with state regulations on such drivers, like conducting background checks and barring drivers who have been convicted of “heinous crimes”—of a violent, sexual or hate-driven nature—from working as drivers, and does not require companies to disclose the names of their contracted drivers in public records. The law also does not mandate drug testing of drivers, as laws governing taxis do.

The association’s president, Larry Blessinger Jr., did not respond to several requests for comment.

Alix Anfang, a spokesperson for Uber, said that since the company is not a party to the lawsuit she could not comment on it. She noted, however, that several similar lawsuits have been filed around the country in states where ride-sharing has been well established, and that none has been successful.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the laws clearing the way for ride-sharing companies to operate statewide in April. The legislation gave full authority over ride-sharing to the State Department of Motor Vehicles, and it prevented local municipalities from imposing their own restrictions and licensing requirements on part-time ride-sharing drivers, as most do on taxis.

The state law prohibits ride-sharing drivers from accepting cash payments or soliciting rides from people other than through the company’s mobile-phone apps, and it bars a driver from working as both a taxi or livery driver and through ride-sharing companies.

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I sure don't miss the days of getting into a dirty smelly mini-van to be shuttled around by a bitter curmudgeon. Welcome Uber and Lyft and especially your better attitudes and clean cars!
By Killerfrog (38), Southampton on Jul 18, 17 12:03 PM
3 members liked this comment
The people have spoken. RIP Lindy's, Hometown, etc.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Jul 18, 17 12:57 PM
Taxi cab companies fail to see why they are continuously seen as the bad guys in this situation.

Taxi cabs are notoriously low quality. Hometown Taxi even brags about purchasing cars under 2 grand and barely cleaning them up beyond the bare minimum.

Taxi fares are notoriously high for the substandard service they provide. $40 bucks to go 4 miles? Oh and this is in a car where the windows don't work, the AC kicks on once every 30 minutes, and the car smell is somewhere between ...more
By TrueHamptons (33), Sag Harbor on Jul 18, 17 3:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
Big deal, so the junkies and drunks operating the disgusting local cabs sued. They will lose
By G (342), Southampton on Jul 18, 17 4:09 PM
Hitchhiking is illegal?
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jul 18, 17 4:35 PM
Puting the gripes about local taxi companies aside, the lawsuit is about two competitors operating side-by-side providing the same service but governed by different laws. One more onerous and expensive than the other. It is the very embodiement of unequal treatment under the law.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Jul 18, 17 4:55 PM
2 members liked this comment
I can understand the local taxi companies being ticked off having to fit all the regs that seemingly Uber doesnt have to. However, the few times I took cabs out here they were disgusting. So much so when having to taxi to a dealer to pick up my car rom service, it was middle of winter and I had to ride with the window wide open as it stunk like a bar room filled with cigarette smoke and someone puked in the car. Gross. Another time when my boat broke down I had to hail a cab to get home from a village ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jul 19, 17 6:24 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Nassau and Suffolk Taxi Owners Association is going to loose this one. "... several similar lawsuits have been filed around the country in states where ride-sharing has been well established, and that none has been successful." Look at whats happened to the value of medallions for NYC yellow cabs.

Instead of fighting change, the Nassau and Suffolk Taxi Owners Association should embrace Uber and Lyft drivers and bring them into their fold and make themselves relevant (or die).
By winkelby (38), westhampton on Jul 19, 17 8:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
Local cab companies had plenty of time to see the writing on the wall and change their model. They didn't and are now resorting to the last resort of a losing lawsuit. They will go down kicking and screaming but will go down nonetheless.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jul 19, 17 10:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Uber is never going to be out here, they are stuck in traffic and everyone of them has tried to make money but they simply cannot get to the fare because of traffic.
They are saying, I can't sit and make money" I'm going back to NYC"
You will only see limited Uber on holiday weekends.....
By Rayman (64), southampton on Jul 22, 17 11:18 AM