If you haven’t heard the news already, the famous ride-hailing app, Uber, ended their operations in the town of East Hampton yesterday. With the start of Summer 2015 upon us, this is bad news for supporters and customers of this successful nationwide car-calling app, and New Yorkers everywhere are freaking out.
Yesterday in a statement, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell commended Uber, “for taking the responsible step of suspending their operations until such time that they comply with the town’s licensing requirements.” The East Hampton town taxi law requires cab drivers to be licensed by the town, while also obtaining a physical address within the town in which they operate.
While last year Uber was able to obtain local licenses for their drivers, the addition of the requirement that drivers have a local physical address is what now prevents Uber from legal operation. According to Uber, this change makes it impossible for their drivers to legally operate in East Hampton.
Town Supervisor Cantwell said the revision to the taxi law was not created with Uber specifically in mind, but was rather in response to the over 700 cabs that had licenses to do business in East Hampton. Does that number bring to mind the image of the hundreds of cabs that line up outside Surf Lodge every weekend? It certainly does for us. Thus, the revision to the original law was effectively enacted to bring order to a chaotic taxi situation.
This situation is certainly unfortunate for all party-goers here on the East End, as the wait-time for a cab could increase, and the expense of cab rides, which could rise, is already a deterrent. Rather than waiting for a cab, many fear that partiers will simply get in their cars after drinking and drive themselves, leading to a potential increase in DUIs and DUI-related accidents.
Since bailing on the Hamptons, Uber has tried to rally its supporters to reach out on Uber’s behalf and contact Supervisor Larry Cantwell to “help bring Uber back” to the east end. A strength in numbers tactic, if you will. Since the sudden withdrawal announcement, Cantwell has told local newspapers that his office has received more than 700 inquiries on Uber’s behalf, in hopes of bringing back the service. No developments have surfaced since though.
However, there is still hope! Because the new law does not prevent people from hailing an Uber outside of the town of East Hampton boundaries, patrons can and still will be dropped off inside of the town’s borders. So don’t fear Uber fans, you will still get out to the East End paradise, you just now have to get out and about the old-fashioned way, and call a local cab or cheat the system and hop in an Uber outside of East Hampton or even in the city and ride out.
Good luck and be safe!