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Oct 27, 2015 11:23 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

State Could Open Door For Uber In East Hampton

Oct 27, 2015 2:20 PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo has suggested a statewide licensing for taxi drivers to accommodate “ride-sharing” operations, a move that could potentially allow Uber cars to return to East Hampton Town.

Uber had pulled all of its drivers out of East Hampton this summer after being unable to reach a compromise with the town on licensing requirements. The service remains inactive in the town.

Following a public appeal by Uber, the governor made a comment to reporters at an upstate event last week saying he thought the state should adopt legislation to accommodate services like Uber and Lyft, removing the need for them to strike deals in each municipality.

“The governor brought it up, so I suspect that he is going to propose some legislation,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said. “Usually, when he floats these ideas in the fall, they have a way of showing up as legislation in January. Some of my colleagues upstate have said they would like to see something similar, so I would expect the legislature to have some discussions on it come 2016.”

The state does not regulate taxi or limousine companies currently, meaning that individual municipalities can set up their own individual licensing requirements. Other state laws prevent companies from insuring drivers independently.

Uber operates in the state now only through contracts with drivers already licensed by New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, or T&LC, which requires its drivers to purchase their own insurance.

The company says it has proven too onerous to try to mold its business model to fit the varying requirements of myriad municipalities statewide.

East Hampton Town’s taxi licenses, as amended prior to this past summer, require that cabs operating in the town be registered to a local address, which excluded city T&LC-licensed cars from operating within the town.

A spokesperson for Uber said the company has been blocked from contracting with local drivers, as suggested by local officials, by provisions in state law that prevent them from offering the $1 million insurance blanket they typically give their driver-partners around the country. A statewide licensing agreement, the company says, would remove some of those barriers to its operating in East Hampton and several large cities like Buffalo.

Beyond Uber’s operations, East Hampton Town says it plans to begin fingerprinting and conducting background checks of town-licensed cab drivers in accordance with a law adopted in 2014 that requires cab drivers licensed by the town be fingerprinted and have background checks. But the town has yet to implement that part of the statute, because it requires the town to set up a registration system with the State Department of Criminal Justice Services in order to conduct the background checks.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said that the town had been waiting for Suffolk County to create its planned taxi commission in hopes of using that commission for its background checks and fingerprinting services, but that the county has taken too long to get the service rolling.

“I don’t think we can wait for the county anymore at this point,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “The clock is ticking for summer 2016 now.”

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Read: Uber CEO writes a bunch of checks, but unlike you and I, he gets richer.
By Brandon Quinn (186), Hampton Bays on Oct 27, 15 1:14 PM
Read: Cuomo takes on another entrenched inefficient system and helps make New York State a great place to live in the 21st century. I use Uber and it's simply a much better service than the old taxi system. Way less waiting, cleaner cars, better drivers and all on my phone - so convenient.
By jperrier (53), Springs on Oct 28, 15 7:22 PM
Power grab by Albany subverting home rule big government fans will applaud this
By bigfresh (4314), north sea on Oct 29, 15 10:23 AM
Suffolk Designer Lighting, Tent Sale, Renovation Sample Sale