The New York State executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is urging Southampton Town officials not to pass proposed legislation requiring Uber, limousine and livery cabs operating in Southampton to adhere to the local taxi law.
MADD is part of a coalition that supports statewide regulation for the app-based ride-sharing service. The group feels the service offers a safe alternative to keep drunken drivers off the road.
A letter from MADD’s Richard C. Mallow dated March 8 and sent to Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and members of the town board urged them to revoke the proposal.
“There is a clear need for affordable and reliable transportation options in the area,” the letter stated.
Citing a report last year by the nonprofit Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, Mallow noted that in 2013, more than 10 percent of the state’s total alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes occurred in Suffolk County. He said the institute, which is based at the University at Albany, found that between 2011 and 2013, “Suffolk County had more alcohol-related accidents than anywhere else in New York State.”
The more options for a safe trip, the better, Mallow said.
“We have to make sure we give people as many options as we can to get them home safely,” he said in an interview Monday.
If the amendment to the existing taxi law is adopted, Southampton would become the second East End town to adopt measures to regulate Uber operations locally.
Councilman Stan Glinka, the board’s liaison to transportation, is proposing the measure, which is set for a March 22 public hearing. He said MADD’s letter will not change his plans. Schneiderman was not immediately available Monday for comment.
Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang has called the proposal an attempt to protect local cabs from competition. The company stopped doing business in East Hampton Town last year when officials required Uber drivers to have a local business address to obtain a taxi license.
In drafting the amendment, Glinka said the intent is to put everyone on “the same playing field,” not to drive anyone out of town.
Under existing law, taxi companies, drivers and cabs must be registered with the town annually. The fees are $750 for owners to obtain a town license, $150 for each vehicle and $100 per driver. Drivers with only one cab, as is the case with Uber drivers who work for the company but drive their own cars, pay a flat annual fee of $1,000.
Driver background checks and fingerprinting are also required.
Glinka dismissed the idea of giving Uber an exception.
“If all the others have to pay and register, what makes anybody any different?” he said. “This is giving people equal rights.”