NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — After a lot of back and forth, the City of Newark has put it foot down – banning Uber drivers from Newark Liberty International Airport and Newark Penn Station.
The ban, which was put on hold last week, is on again after a City Council meeting on Tuesday, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
The city said that ride share drivers will be ticketed and towed from the airport and train station because they violate a city ordinance requiring all commercial vehicles to pay to have licenses, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
Some travelers were not pleased at all.
“Shouldn’t be!” said traveler Leena Jain. “It’s so convenient! I love Uber!”
“It doesn’t cost a lot,” another customer said. “It’s less than a limo getting to the airport.”
But Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said it was an issue of regulations, compliance and safety.
“Taxis and auto cabs — they have to have a particular license; commercial license; they have to be investigated, finger-printed; and more importantly, they have to have medallions and they have to pay the city,” Baraka explained to CBS2.
Baraka said further that Uber undermines taxi drivers and takes their business away.
“It is completely unfair to the taxi drivers who are also workers trying to support their families to allow Uber to circumvent the law,” Baraka said in a statement. “Taxis are waiting two hours to pick up fares while Uber skips the lines. They also do not pay the city any additional revenue as taxi cabs do to pick up from airport and train station.”
Uber says background checks are run on all drivers to check criminal history, motor vehicle history, and the National Sex Offender Database. But Baraka said the ride-share companies violate a city ordinance requiring all commercial vehicles to have licenses.
“The reality is there are thousands of cab drivers — mostly immigrants, by the way, and this is their only source of income – that are in this city, that have been driving people back and forth for years and using this money to take care of themselves in their family,” Baraka said. “We’ve created and regulated these drivers – not just in Newark, all over the state of New Jersey. These drivers are regulated. They pay a handsome sum of money to get medallions, to get insurance, to get cars.”
But Uber driver Bryan Clark wants to keep his job too. He said he comes to Newark all the time to pick up and drop off.
“At one point, I had a police or officer come to my car and try to hassle me, and the customer refused to get out,” Clark said.
Yuguang Feng is an Uber driver who CBS2 saw picking up fares at Newark Airport last week when the ban was supposed to first take effect.
He said he understands how his work may be cutting into the profits of traditional cab and limo companies.
“Traditional taxi drivers they lose money. No good for them, their business was cut out,” he said.
Jeff Shanker, president of the Limousine Association of New Jersey, spoke with CBS2 by phone and explained that he believes it’s a public safety issue as well.
“We are thankful authorities are recognizing illegal operations of the company and that public safety is in jeopardy. Lack of insurance, lack of background, fingerprint checks, medical testing, that all other for hire drivers comply with,” he said.
But Uber defended its own reputation. The company said more than 2,000 drivers are Newark residents, and added in the statement, “We hope that Newark will follow the lead of the Port Authority and support the riders and drivers who use the Uber platform at Newark airport.”
“Every single Uber ride is covered by $1.5 million of commercial liability insurance, and all drivers must undergo an extensive pre-screening before they can get on the road,” the company said in a statement. “Instead of trying to restrict competition and consumer choice, Newark should be welcoming the thousands of drivers who use Uber to earn income and support their families.”
Added Clark, “Customers love Uber drivers; love Uber, and I think mayor would love Uber if he tried it.”
Clark said he is not going to let the possibility of a ticket or a tow stop him from coming to the airport.
“If I turn Uber app on and it hits to pick someone up, I’m going to pick them up,” Clark said.
There are more than 13,000 residents driving with Uber. Uber has not told its drivers to stop coming to Newark.