Cab drivers plan to boycott downtown Buffalo on New Year’s Eve

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Cab companies in Buffalo say they’re fed up with unfair treatment in the competition with ride sharing companies. Now they plan to boycott on one of their busiest nights — New Year’s Eve.

If you plan on ringing in the new year in downtown Buffalo, you won’t be able to hail a taxi to get around.

“It’ll hurt. They’re going to have to take a chance with Uber or Lyft,” said Tony Farina.

Tony Farina is the spokesperson for Liberty Cab in Buffalo. He says the owner, Bill Yuhnke, plans to keep his drivers out of the downtown area specifically on New Year’s Eve.

Farina says cab companies are fed up with what he calls unfair competition from ridesharing companies.

“This is not an intentional punishment on the Buffalo community. This is a way to get the attention of city officials to say look you’ve got to do something about this,” said Farina.

On a busy night like New Year’s Eve, prices for Uber and Lyft are expected to skyrocket due to demand.

But taxi drivers can still only charge about $3 a mile.

“We can’t compete with their ability to charge fares that are much higher than we can charge under the city regulations,” said Farina.

Farina says cab companies want city officials to hold Uber and Lyft drivers to the same standards as cab drivers, from background checks to car insurance.

“Regulate everybody or don’t regulate anybody,” said Farina.

Council member joe Golombek says it would be easier to de-regulate the taxi industry rather than regulate ride sharing. He says that won’t happen but the city is working with cab companies on an alternative. Farina says he’s been talking to representatives from Mayor Brown’s office.

“They appear to be interested in trying to talk and do something to see what they can do to try to make this a more level playing field,” said Farina.

Farina says he just hopes they can come to an agreement before New Year’s Eve. If that happens, he says the New Year’s Eve boycott will be called off. If not, Liberty Cab drivers say they will only service people in the suburbs and not downtown Buffalo.

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