Long Islanders have been Ubering, and Nassau County officials do not like it.
According to the Nassau County Taxi and Limousine Commission, there have been 2,500 violations reported this year distributed to taxi-alternative transportation drivers.
“Any individual operating in Nassau County under a taxi-alternative company is under violation,” said Greg May, Commissioner of the Nassau County Taxi and Limousine Commission.
May, along with the rest of the members at the Nassau County Taxi and Limousine Commission, have been cracking down on Uber drivers for over a year now.
Uber, which is worth $68 billion, has resonated into becoming the number one transportation app service. In 2015, Uber Technologies began pushing their business into Long Island and upstate New York. The bill died in the Senate this past summer.
May met with Uber executives to find out more about their business model and the possibility of operating in Nassau County last summer. According to May, they never reached a deal and the bill died in the state legislature.
“If they’re not operating a for hire vehicle, they will not be ticketed,” said May.
Since then, the Nassau County and Taxi Limousine Commission has continued to respond to complaints about unlicensed vehicles operating in Nassau County.
Despite the complaints, Nassau County residents still prefer using local taxi companies. According to a local poll, 66% of Long Islanders who live in Nassau County prefer to use local taxi companies to get around, instead of using Uber.
“It’s reliable and I’m just used to it,” said Betsy Eisenberg, a frequent local taxi rider.
Eisenberg and her boyfriend, Steven November, frequently call local taxi users when they’re flying out of town, or just after coming back home from a night in the city. Instead of downloading the Uber app, Eisenberg just finds it simpler to walk across the street from the Long Island Railroad to a local taxi company.
Many Long Island cab drivers have also benefited by driving for local taxi companies instead of app-based transportation services.
“I lived 5 minutes away, pull about $250 on an average day with tips, and I was able to use the company’s vehicle instead of my own,” said a former cab driver who worked for All Island Taxi.
While she doesn’t work for the company anymore, she said she greatly benefited from driving for the company and did not feel the need to make the switch to driving for Uber or Lyft.
“I worked in Rockville Centre, where there was a lot of business during the day and night. I had to deal with a lot of annoying dispatchers and 12 hour shifts, but it worked,” she said.
It’s also cheaper for riders to go local. According to the pricing map on Uber, a 2-mile ride in Nassau County can cost up from $9-$12 with Uber. Local taxi companies can charge up to $5 for a 2-mile ride, excluding tip.
While May is pleased to hear that many residents continue to use local taxi companies to travel, he and the rest of the commission will continue to ensure the laws to provide safe transportation services for the county.
“I’m proud of this department, and we will continue to protect our passengers and the taxi owners of Nassau County,” said May.