In the summer, New York City can be a ghost town, as New Yorkers escape the concrete jungle to flock to the waterfront haven of the Hamptons. This summer, however, New York's avid Uber riders won't be able to depend on the ride-hail service to get them around one particular coastal town: East Hampton. The town passed a new ordinance that would require drivers of for-hire vehicles to have a local business address in order to obtain a commercial driving license.
This means Uber is effectively banned in East Hampton. Few, if any, Uber drivers servicing the Hamptons either live in the area or are summering at the beach. Instead, many drivers make the trip there and stay for a night or two, drawn in by the promise of higher rates and high demand, a welcome change for New York City-based drivers facing the typically slower summer season.
The ban is a big deal for drivers, and a big deal for the company, too — even if it is a small market. While the Hamptons are not a critical location for Uber — it's only busy during the summer — the company being banned there does conflict with the company's goal of being a primary transportation option everywhere.
"There is an unquestionable need and demand for Uber in the Hamptons because taxi service has been historically unreliable," Uber spokesperson Matt Wing said. "For the last several summers, Uber obtained local licenses from the town of East Hampton so residents could get safe and reliable rides with the push of a button. Unfortunately the East Hampton Town Supervisor and Town Board have changed the rules, banning Uber from the town and denying their constituents access to our service."
The vacation town is also known for its intoxicated drivers causing some Hampton-goers to publicly lament the Uber ban on Twitter. Just last week there were 11 alcohol-related arrests in East Hampton. But as long as the rule stands, there will be fewer alternatives to get partygoers safely back home.
Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.
Contact Johana Bhuiyan at email@example.com.
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