Taxi, limo owners ask why they can’t have this, too?

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Taxi and limousine owners are demanding equal treatment from city lawmakers now that they are competing with ridesharing companies in the Buffalo market, competition they feel is slanted toward the newcomers.

The legacy transportation owners say they are hurting, and some may go out of business, because while the local companies are regulated and pay fees to local government, the new ride-hailing, or ridesharing companies are saddled with far fewer regulations, fees, and taxes.

Owners pointed to a ridesharing “pickup zone” set up a block from Keybank Center—actually an Uber pickup zone–convenient for hockey fans and other events. The designated area is marked by signs posted in a no parking zone, and next to a fire hydrant, on a public sidewalk.

Brian Drake, owner of Broadway Cab Co. said taxis and limousines do not get the same consideration, “We would be in trouble. We would get ticketed, we would be cited. There would be some kind of ramifications to go through, if we were to just take it upon ourselves to put a stand where we want to put it.”

Drake claims Broadway Cab is the oldest taxi service in Buffalo, and earlier this week, he and other legacy transportation owners asked members of the Common Council to do something about the inequality.

Taxis, black cars, and limos are highly regulated, said Drake, but the ridesharing services, not so much, pointing out the setting of fares.

“Whether they take Cab 2, Cab 4, Cab 8, or Cab 10, the meter is the same, the price is the same. With rideshare, they can surge their prices to whatever they want to surge them to.”

North District Councilmember Joseph Golombek agreed, the game seems to be rigged in favor of the newcomers, despite the fees and the taxes the cabs and limos pay to the city.

“They paid for permits, they paid for inspections, they paid for police inspections, they paid to have their meters checked on a regular basis. So they should be getting some bang for their buck.”

While the Common Council is just fact-finding the issue right now, Golombek said city lawmakers need to even the odds, “They are being hurt by rideshare because it is still, in my opinion, not a level playing field, and it should be more level. The city should be doing everything we can to level it as much as possible.”

Golombek said the Common Council did not authorize the postings, and the city’s law department is researching if it is even legal.

No one has taken credit for the signs designating the pickup zone on Scott Street, although Uber and Pegula Sports and Entertainment jointly announced in April an official ridesharing partnership with the Buffalo Bills, Sabres, and Bandits.

Ridesharing only became legal in Buffalo in June.

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