Newark to begin towing Uber drivers at airport, train station

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on February 10, 2016

The Uber app is seen on a smartphone past cabs waiting for clients near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain in 2014. Newark's head prosecutor has informed the California-based company that all cars operating in and around Newark Penn Station and Newark Liberty International Airport will be towed starting Feb. 22.

 

NEWARK — There's a war on wheels brewing outside the city's two largest transit hubs.

Newark Chief Municipal Prosecutor Evans C. Anyanwu sent a letter to Uber last month, informing the company that all of its drivers operating at and around Newark Penn Station and Newark Liberty International Airport were violating the city's taxicab ordinance.

"After Feb. 22, the continued violation of the city's laws will result in civil and criminal penalties for Uber and its drivers," the letter read.

The move marks the latest strike against California-based Uber, which has been operating largely unregulated in New Jersey since rising to national prominence in recent years.

Newark officials have debated how to regulate the influx of cars now picking up passengers at the airport and downtown, pushed largely by unions and other taxicab organization who say their profits have been cut by as much as 80 percent.

Last month, a group of drivers staged a protest outside Newark Liberty International Airport to call for the state to regulate their new rivals.

Anyanwu could not immediately be reached to clarify how the city's ordinance was being violated, but Mayor Ras Baraka issued a statement saying all commercial vehicles must obtain a license to operate at the train station or airport.

"The State of New Jersey needs to step in to create legislation and policy to regulate this matter," he said.

Police officials said they had yet to be apprised of the order, and a woman who answered the phone at the Newark Taxicab Commission said they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

The Port Authority, which patrols the airport, has publicly stated that it is up to the city to enforce taxi cab regulations there.

Uber, however, appears undeterred.

In a statement, the company said it would encourage its drivers to continue taking passengers to and from either location, and promised to reimburse them for any towing fees or other penalties they may incur.

"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," it said.

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