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May 2, 2017 4:10 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Lining Up Laws To Meet Uber Onslaught

May 2, 2017 4:29 PM

East Hampton Town officials have agreed to tailor taxi licensing laws and fee structures this spring to meet the coming spread of Uber and Lyft in the region.

The Town Board on Tuesday said it would soon adopt legislation that will allow the enforcement of the newly approved state regulations on ride-sharing companies and their drivers when they return to the town for the first time in two years, and in much larger numbers, this summer. The town also agreed to trim its licensing fees for local taxi companies, though only slightly, to be consistent with the fees that Southampton Town charges taxi operators.

The town also will retool some parking restrictions intended to bar taxis from taking up parking spots in Montauk’s busy areas during the day to make sure the same restriction can be enforced against Uber and Lyft drivers.

When the State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo reached a deal to pave the way for Uber and Lyft to spread their operations statewide and across Long Island, the deal barred local municipalities from being able to craft their own requirements on ride sharing. But the state did impose a number of regulations on the companies’ drivers: prohibiting them from accepting fares in cash, picking up riders on the street or soliciting rides in any way other than through the mobile phone apps on which the companies’ business models are based.

Town officials said that by tailoring town law to parallel the state codes, local police and code officers would be able to ticket Uber and Lyft drivers whom they catch breaking any of the state laws.

The town code will be rewritten to state that anyone picking up riders for a fare must either have a town taxi license or a license as a state ride-sharing driver—but may not have both.

“It’s important that our law reflects the state law, because that makes it enforceable by the town,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said. “There’s a lot of changes going on here … we certainly will do the best we can to enforce the law that we have as it is—not only our law but to the extent the state law is enforceable by us.”

The state approved the legislation making it possible for ride-sharing companies to operate statewide on April 8. The law will take effect 90 days after that, July 8, but it’s not clear yet whether the State Department of Motor Vehicles will be able to get its licensing and driver certification processes implemented by then. Uber representatives said it is possible that drivers will not be able to operate until later in the season.

Uber alone has said it has some 50,000 people statewide who have signed up to be drivers once it begins operating outside New York City.

Mr. Cantwell suggested the town also cut its fees to taxi companies for each vehicle, from $200 to $150, and for each driver, from $200 to $100, to be in line with Southampton’s fee schedule. The $750 annual fee for each taxi company to have an operating license should remain unchanged, he suggested.

Town Clerk Carole Brennan said that those taxi companies and drivers that have already paid the current fees would get refunds once the new fees are in place.

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This article uses the phrase 'has agreed' a number of times. With whom is the Town board agreeing?
By Duckbornandraised (180), Eastport on May 2, 17 5:02 PM
No idling, no loitering, no soliciting...Parking by permit only...No parking anytime...
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on May 2, 17 5:26 PM
Adapt or die
Long live Uber
By Qguy (27), quogue on May 2, 17 8:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Town of East Hampton has nothing better to do. If they could regulate bodily flatulence they would. The Town is full of people with nothing better to do than complain. They want to shut down the airport because of the plane noise. IT'S AN AIRPORT! They want to stop Uber because the cars will be all over the place. Instead of saying no to everything that works everywhere else all over the Country, why not make it work better. East Hampton Airport is not JFK, and Montauk village is not Times Square. ...more
By deelove (126), Bridgehampton on May 3, 17 8:03 AM
Aren't there things in Bridgehampton for you to bitch about?
By harbor (362), East Hampton on May 3, 17 8:43 AM
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