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Uber agrees to licensing fees to operate in Southampton Town

An Uber car idles after dropping of a

An Uber car idles after dropping of a passenger in lower Manhattan on July 16, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

More than 40 citations have been issued since Memorial Day to Uber drivers trying to do business in Southampton Town without the proper licensing, but the company is making efforts to bring its drivers into compliance, officials said Tuesday.

In April, the town board passed a controversial amendment to Southampton’s taxi law that required Uber, limousines and livery cars to adhere to the same licensing requirements as local cabs. The board was to decide at a later, unspecified date how much the companies would pay for their licensing fees.

However, Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said Tuesday that earlier this month a “temporary agreement” was worked out between the town and Uber for the summer, and the pact was confirmed Tuesday by local officials.

Uber, which operates with drivers who are considered independent contractors because they use their own cars, has been allowed to register as a business and pay $750 for a license. Each of its drivers will pay $250 to obtain an operator and vehicle permit.

Anfang said drivers will pay $250 but can earn that back from Uber as an incentive by doing a certain number of trips.

Southampton usually charges a $750 annual fee for taxi owners to obtain a town license, plus $150 for each vehicle and $100 per driver. Drivers with only one taxi, as is the case with Uber drivers, would pay a flat annual fee of $1,000.

In previous interviews, Anfang expressed concerns that Uber drivers could not afford large licensing fees.

She said that as part of the agreement with the town, Uber drivers were also sent an email Monday to make sure they know they need a permit to drive in Southampton.

“We are grateful that Southampton has been willing to work with us to come to a temporary agreement that will lessen drunk driving and ensure that local residents and visitors can get a safe, reliable and affordable ride this summer,” Anfang said Tuesday in an emailed statement.

Councilman Stan Glinka said in an interview Tuesday that before the agreement was reached, police and code enforcement officials had been “issuing citations left and right” to Uber drivers operating without local licenses.

Town Attorney James M. Burke said Tuesday that figures for the licensing violations issued by police were not immediately available, but said that since Memorial Day code enforcement personnel had issued 42 summonses — with a maximum fine of $500 — to Uber drivers.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer said. “It took a little while for Uber to determine how to function [under the new licensing law], and its business model was different than what we had dealt with in the past.”


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