Cabbies threaten to avoid downtown Buffalo on New Year's Eve

Posted at 4:20 PM, Dec 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-06 18:41:27-05

Some taxi cab companies are now threatening to avoid downtown Buffalo on New Year's Eve because of, what they say, is unfair regulation by the City of Buffalo.

New Year's Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year when it comes to people needing transportation.

While cab companies realize they will be losing fares, many say they have to send a message to city lawmakers of how unfair the situation has become in dealing with ridesharing service like UBER and LYFT.

The taxi companies argue that ridesharing drivers can increase charges during high-demand times (like Bills games and First Night Buffalo), while cab costs are set by city regulations.

Gerald Chiarmonte, Vice-President of Airport Taxi Service, said on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, some ridesharing drivers were charging UB students $80 to get from the airport to the campus - while Airport Taxi Service has a contractual rate for students set at $28.

Chiarmonte say perception that ridesharing is cheeper is destroying the Buffalo taxi and livery industry.

Both Airport Taxi Service and Liberty Yellow Cab of Buffalo took complaints to the Buffalo Common Council earlier this week.  Pricing was only one issue.  Cab companies also pointed to their requirements to have higher-cost commercial insurance and the fact that ridesharing services have areas to park which are off-limits to cabs.

"We hope they have seen that it is not a level playing field for us and they must do something to alleviate the problems in our industry, or there will be no industry and several hundred families will be affected," said Chiarmonte.

However, UBER said ridesharing regulations are set on a state level.  Communities that accept ridesharing cannot set their own regulations but can choose to "opt-out" of ridesharing.

As to pricing, UBER uses a "dynamic pricing" policy that increases fees during high-demand periods as a way to entice more drivers to be available for customers.

Ridesharing companies believe people are voting with their feet and they feel the real competition is with personal cars and not taxi companies.

The Buffalo Common Council now plans to take a closer look at how other cities across the country are dealing with the regulation conflict between UBER/LYFT and taxi companies.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter talks to people on both sides of the issue tonight.