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Southampton wants Uber to follow same local rules as taxis

Rahat Mumtaz, owner of All Hampton Taxi, at

Rahat Mumtaz, owner of All Hampton Taxi, at the Southampton LIRR station on March 2, 2016. He says Uber drivers should have taxi licenses. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

A second East End town is ready to put a roadblock in Uber’s path.

Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka is proposing legislation calling for Uber — and all limousine and livery cab companies doing business in the town — to comply with the local taxi law to put everyone on “the same playing field.”

Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang called the measure “an attempt to protect local taxi interests” that will drive the app-based car hailing service out of Southampton.

Uber pulled out of East Hampton last year when the town required company drivers to have a local business address for local licensing. The company would face the same requirement under the Southampton law.

“Everyone’s doing this throughout the country because they [Uber] went so rampant with their business,” Glinka said of the Manhattan-based company that has become wildly popular as an alternative to street hailing taxis or calling car services.

Glinka said he will propose the law and a public hearing on Tuesday, and expects a vote on March 22.

“As the council’s liaison for transportation, I’ve been working with taxicab owners who say Uber is coming in and undercutting us,” Glinka said.

Southampton’s existing town code applies to taxis that solicit fares. No local law regulates prearranged trip services such as those offered by Uber, limousine and livery companies.

The new measure was planned before last month’s alleged shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by an Uber driver, Glinka said. But the shooting, which killed six, underscores the need for outside companies and drivers to be vetted and regulated, he said.

Under the current Southampton law, taxi companies, drivers and the vehicles must be registered with the town annually. Fees are $750 for a business license, $150 for each vehicle, and $100 per driver. Drivers with one cab pay a total of $1,000.

Background checks and fingerprinting are mandatory for drivers.

“They [Uber] should do the same things and have a taxi license plate,” Rahat Mumtaz, owner of All Hampton Taxi company, said.

Glinka said that because Uber drivers work for a company with no business site in Southampton, they would be considered working for an unlicensed operation.

“It’s up to them to figure that out,” Glinka said.

Anfang said the proposed law is “an attempt to protect local taxi interests at the expense of hardworking Uber driver-partners who are trying to earn a living.”

Anfang said, “There is an unquestionable demand for Uber in Southampton because local taxi service has been historically unreliable, and the councilman’s effort would simply deny residents the ability to get an affordable, reliable and safe ride at the touch of a button.”

The plan

Proposed requirements for Uber, limousine and livery cab companies operating in Southampton Town:

  • Maintain a business address in Southampton to qualify for licensing.
  • Undergo background checks and fingerprinting for drivers.
  • Pay annual fees of $750 for a business license, $150 for each vehicle and $100 per driver.

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