Uber Cars Rack Up Violations for Illegal Street Hails as NYC Proposes Crackdown
Forget tapping an app for that Uber — there are drivers who will pick you up off the street for fast cash.
Taxi and Limousine Commission summons data shows that cars tied to Uber bases are among the worst offenders for illegal street pickups, with 2,825 tickets issued between the start of 2015 and this year, through March 4.
That’s nearly a fifth of the 14,884 summonses for unauthorized rides issued in that stretch. The five car bases that received the most infractions — totaling 2,335 tickets — belong to Uber.
The Daily News checked out hot spots where industry officials say illegal pickups are rampant and found car service app drivers cruising to pull in cash on the side.
“Sometimes, Uber doesn’t give you enough jobs,” one cash-strapped driver said after attempting to negotiate a $15 ride to Penn Station from Union Square. “Sometimes, you cannot even pay (for) your car.”
Meanwhile, illegal street hails have the attention of the City Council, which is voting Thursday on hiking fines for poaching rides in Manhattan’s core and at airports from $500 to $2,000.
“These stats show that even though we are doing 46% of all (for-hire vehicle) trips citywide, cars affiliated with our bases represent only 20% of all summonses,” Uber rep Matt Wing said. “We want to see this number continue to go down and we hope the City Council's efforts will help achieve that.”
While illegal street hailing has always been a nuisance in the taxi business, it’s become more of an issue since drivers for Uber and other platforms have seen fare rates slashed and more part-time drivers flooding the streets.
[Uber and other for-hire vehicles are not permitted to pick up passengers off the street in Manhattan, and face stiff fines for doing so.] ANGUS MORDANT/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Uber and other for-hire vehicles are not permitted to pick up passengers off the street in Manhattan, and face stiff fines for doing so.
“Uber has taken on more drivers than they possibly have the business for,” said Ira Goldstein, director of the Black Car Assistance Corp., an industry group that represents Uber and other luxury car drivers.
With a fleet of more than 30,000 cars linked to Uber, taxi professionals say illegal pickups in the age of apps are greater than the number of summonses suggest. For-hire drivers can get fares on more than one app and through car service firms.
“There has always been a problem of illegal street hails in New York City and what you have now is an exacerbation of that problem,” Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade spokesman Michael Woloz said. “And the people who are really going to suffer are the riding public for whom illegal street hails are becoming routine.”
Green cab drivers are also seeing Uber and app drivers muscle in on their turf.
“They pick up in front of yellow, they pick up in front of green, they don’t care,” said Nancy Soria, a green cab driver and advocate with Green Taxis of New York. “They just pick up in front of you.”
The TLC, meanwhile, plans to add 80 new enforcement officers to its force of 172, according to agency spokesman Allan Fromberg. He said that the TLC last year cracked down harder on illegal street hails than in 2014, thanks to more collaboration and sting operations with the NYPD and Port Authority Police Department.
TLC Chair Meera Joshi warned riders against taking these trips.
“If you are ripped off, or leave something behind, for example, neither the TLC nor any app whose logo may be displayed has any way to track that trip and find the driver,” she said.
This article originally appeared on New York Daily News.