Jersey Shore town threatens Uber, Lyft drivers if they don’t follow these rules
SEA GIRT — A shore town has laid out the rules for Uber, Lyft and taxis as the summer gets underway.
Sea Girt police posted a message on their Facebook page Thursday encouraging the use of licensed taxi companies when going to and from the Parker House bar and restaurant two blocks from the beach on First Avenue.
Uber and Lyft drivers, meanwhile, have been warned not to drop off or pick up rides anywhere but from a legal parking space or else they will be ticketed without warning. They will also get a ticket if they try to use an official taxi stand, which is located near the bar.
Police Chief Kevin Davenport the message, which he releases every year, is not about pitting ride-sharing apps against taxis, which are licensed by and pay fees to municipalities.
"It's a set of our ground rules we expect people to follow throughout the summer," Davenport said. "We're in a very unique situation where we have a very busy bar that is located in a non-conforming neighborhood setting. My primary concern for our residents is maintaining peace and order and making sure that people don't have any breaches of ordinances in town such as quality of life issues."
Ride-sharing services have become increasingly popular in New Jersey with both riders and the drivers, who use their personal cars to earn extra money. But ride-sharing services are not as regulated as the taxi industry, leading to criticism that the ride-sharing apps are unfairly undercutting licensed drivers.
Gov. Chris Christie this year signed a law that requires background checks and insurance coverage for ride-share drivers. The companies had threatened to leave the state if the regulations proved to be burdensome.
The war between ride-sharing drivers and taxis took another turn earlier this year when a group of South Jersey Uber drivers sued Atlantic City taxis in Superior Court. The Uber drivers say the taxis are registering as Uber cars, which they say is against the company's rules, and then using their marked cabs to take advantage of the taxi stands' proximity to the hotels and casinos.
Davenport said the borough has been licensing companies for less than a decade, with an application process that involved background checks and proof of liability and vehicle inspections. The borough also created taxi stands in front of the Parker House, which the police say can't be used by ride-share drivers.
"It has worked over the last seven years. It's been very effective and an essential process in getting these people out of the establishment in this residential area and on their way out to wherever they want to go come 11:30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights," Davenport said.
A Jersey Shore-based Uber driver, who asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized by Uber to speak to the press, told New Jersey 101.5 that he felt "disrespected" when picking up or dropping off near the Parker House. The driver said he has to park two blocks away and police have told him that he will be ticketed if he parks in the street. But, he says, taxis do the same thing and are not bothered.
"I have been pulled over twice by Bar A (in Lake Como) for dropping off in street like taxis are allowed," the driver said.
It's a similar situation at the Long Branch train station, according to the driver, who said cab drivers will chase Uber vehicles out of the taxi stand areas. Uber drivers also have to park a block away from D'Jais in Belmar, the driver said.
Seaside Heights Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said his town has received no complaints about Uber or Lyft drivers.
"Uber is picking up and delivering people but no one has complained about anything that would generate the need for regulations," Vaz said.
"We welcome the opportunity to work with local officials and law enforcement to keep drunk drivers off the roads this summer," Uber spokesman Chris Ewer said in a statement. "On the Jersey Shore and throughout the state, Uber provides a safe, reliable way to get a ride when you’ve had too much to drink."
Davenport said that Uber and Lyft are welcome in Sea Girt and there are no specific regulations in effect for them.
"I welcome anybody who provides a ride to any specific person that has been drinking," which keeps them from driving while intoxicated.
"We also request from them that they respect New Jersey state statues of not stopping in the middle of the road to drop or pick up their passengers, which would create another safety concern as far as their patrons walking in the middle of the street," Davenport said.
The chief said a zero-tolerance policy is in effect because it will help spread the word among anyone providing a ride that the borough's rules need to be followed.
Davenport also warned that fake IDs and underage drinking will not be tolerated in the borough.
"I feel it's very beneficial and people get the message that we're not going to tolerate any breaches of ordinances such as alcohol in public, urinating in public, littering, loud noise and disruptive behavior," Davenport said.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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