Uber and Lyft get a free ride … again

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Uber and Lyft get a free ride … again

Uber and Lyft get a free ride … again
June 20, 2016

Uber and Lyft relish their status as disrupters. They have a long record of operating in violation of local laws. They have done this in New York, across the nation and around the world. While the Bloomberg administration gave them a free ride in New York City (they knowingly let them operate outside the law), the hope for those of us in the car service business was that the de Blasio administration would take a different approach. Initially they did, requiring Uber and Lyft to follow rules and drafting new ones to force them to play fair.

But Uber and Lyft are now up to their dirty old tricks. After causing the breakdown of the yellow taxi and black car industries (just look at the plummeting price of a taxi medallion) and occupying 90 percent of the black car supply, Uber and Lyft are now after the livery industry, seeking to conquer it with tactics that completely disregard existing laws.

Uber and Lyft’s latest trick involves reaching out to livery drivers and telling them they can drive for both Uber and their current livery base. Uber and Lyft are also giving drivers nice financial incentives to entice them. This is illegal.

A year ago, the de Blasio administration passed a rule that prohibits what’s called “cross-dispatch,” where black car bases (like those owned by Uber and Lyft) cannot dispatch livery cars and vice-versa. This might seem like some obscure regulation, but the rule was created to protect livery customers who typically live outside Manhattan and can’t afford Uber’s diabolic surge pricing practices. (Many livery customers don’t even have a credit card, which is necessary for all Uber transactions.)

When Uber and Lyft illegally dispatch a driver from a community car base, they often leave car base customers stranded. That’s because they pay the driver to pick up their rides instead of the rides the driver promised to provide to the car base customers. Uber and Lyft’s actions aren’t just illegal; they are unjust and hurt the poorer and older members of our communities.

Several livery bases and the Livery Roundtable have alerted the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission about Uber and Lyft’s illegal activity and even provided them with proof, but the TLC has, to date, done nothing to stop them.

The livery industry – made up of over 400 mostly mom-and-pop car service businesses – is worried that because of Bill de Blasio’s bruising fight with Uber last summer, the administration will take a more hands-off approach. Uber and Lyft shouldn’t get a free ride at the expense of car service companies and their customers. We hope the administration takes action, and fast. Our businesses and customers are suffering.

Steven Shanker is the executive director of the Livery Roundtable.

Steven Shanker
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