Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's recent comments that New York State should create a statewide system for regulating Uber and other digital ride-sharing companies is driving speculation that Uber could return to East Hampton Town -- a prospect that doesn't sit well with the locals.
Cuomo told reporters in New York City last Wednesday during questioning at an unrelated event that "you can't do Uber city by city. This would be a statewide franchise."
Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Wednesday that he wouldn't support an effort that lacks the input of local officials.
"I think every municipality has their own situation with Uber, and I'm a staunch supporter of local control," Cantwell said, adding that statewide regulation "wouldn't address the hundreds of cabs descending on Montauk and Uber drivers sleeping in their cars and clogging up streets."
Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said in a telephone interview Wednesday that Cuomo's idea cannot be presented as an official proposal until the legislature reconvenes in January. In the meantime, Anfang said the New York-based service would push for the statewide system, which she said would open the door for Uber to return to East Hampton."We want a bill that would create a regulatory structure across the state, and that would include East Hampton," Anfang said.
Uber left East Hampton Town in June after a dispute with officials about a local law that requires cabdrivers to have an address in town. It had operated in the town for three years. The company's drivers, who used their own cars for the service and came from New York City, could not afford to have either a business or residence in East Hampton, company officials said.
New York City allows digital companies such as Uber to operate as for-hire black cars regulated by the city Taxi & Limousine Commission, but elsewhere Uber uses a ride-sharing program that allows drivers to pick up fares with their own cars, Anfang said.
She said the governor's idea would also allow Uber to potentially bring 13,000 jobs to New York State as the upstate economy is experiencing revitalization and investing in innovators.
"It is clear that state leaders are hearing the voices of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are clamoring for services like Uber across the state, from potential driver-partners who want to use the platform to earn money to riders who want a safe, reliable and affordable way to get around their communities," Anfang said.
Bryan DaParma, who owns Hometown Taxi, one of several local cab companies serving East Hampton, said he would oppose a statewide system.
"I can't support that," said DaParma, who joined other local companies that adopted app-based services after Uber left East Hampton. "Someone could come here from Westchester and take my business away from me."