Facing increasing pressure from the taxi industry, authorities in New York have begun to crack down on Uber — issuing tickets and seizing cars of Uber drivers who participate in illegal pickups in the city.
Between April 29 and June 15, the New York Post reports that NYC authorities seized 496 cars from Uber drivers taking illegal street hails, mostly at the three airports in the region.
Uber spokesman Matt Wing said that “street hails are not permitted on the Uber platform — period. This is a small group of bad actors and the violations add up to less than one hundredth of one percent of our rides over the same time period.”
Airports are the last domestic frontier for Uber, and even in cities where the service is well-ingrained, it faces constant scrutiny. The seizures of Uber cars were part of a larger operation that confiscated a total of 938 for-hire vehicles operating illegally, according to Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesman Allan Fromberg.
“Our officers noted an uptick in illegal activity attributable to licensed for-hire vehicles acting outside their authority,” Fromberg told the Post. “And seizures have a greater deterrent value than summonses alone.”
These small setbacks just don’t seem to add up for the five-year-old ride sharing company. The New York Times Magazine reported that the company is reimbursing its drivers who incur fines and tickets in Paris. And in China, it relies on huge driver subsidies to ensure customers are only billed at cost.
Uber will soon face a major test in New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear in court on June 22 to face allegations from four of the city’s largest taxi financiers that the city should not have permitted any passenger pick-ups through an app. They allege that an "e-hail" is synonymous with a traditional street hail, the exclusive domain of yellow cabs.
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