While well-funded ride sharing company Uber wages hundreds of legal battles across the world over its ride sharing app, some municipalities are becoming fed up. Case in point: New York City, which has begun seizing improperly registered Uber cars.
New data shows that hundreds of Uber cars were taken off NYC streets this spring as part of a larger crackdown on illegal activity by black and livery cars.
The powerful Taxi and Limousine Commission seized 496 cars affiliated with Uber between April 29th and June 15th for picking up illegal street hails, according to released records.
Black and livery cars are only allowed to do pre-arranged trips, either through a smartphone app or a base dispatch.
Many of the Uber drivers were doing illegal pick-ups at JFK Airport, resulting in their vehicles being seized.
“Street hails are not permitted on the Uber platform — period,” said Uber spokesman Matt Wing. “This is a small group of bad actors and the violations add up to less than one hundredth of one period of our rides over the same time period.”
Uber has 19,000 drivers in the NYC market which is about 30 percent of the industry.
“The fact that the TLC has seized such a staggering amount of Uber cars in such a short period of time only shows that more oversight is needed,” said Tweeps Phillips Woods of the Committee for Taxi Safety, which represents taxi brokers as well as drivers who own their vehicles.
The New York Taxiworkers Alliance is strongly against Uber, as it has depress their wages as there are no caps on the number of Uber drivers.
“I think it’s honestly a reflection of the oversaturation of the vehicles, and the desperation everyone is feeling on the streets to earn a living,” said Bhairavi Desai, who represents both yellow cab and Uber drivers for the union.
Desai wants a cap on the number of Uber drivers, and require the app to give them a minimum fare requirement, in addition to a guaranteed number of trips.
“At least they’re beginning to take action,” she added.
While occupying 30 percent of the market, Uber drivers accounted for over 50 percent of the total of 938 black, livery, and luxury cars were taken off the streets.
“Our officers noted an uptick in illegal activity attributable to licensed for-hire vehicles acting outside their authority,” said agency spokesman Allan Fromberg. “And seizures have a greater deterrent value than summonses alone.”