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Thursday 20 September 2018
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Uber Is Posing a Serious Threat to Syracuse Taxi Drivers Who Are Demanding a Level Playing Field

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Man driving car, hand on steering wheel, looking at the road ahead,sunset.Frank Manzi III, owner of Yellow Taxi Company in Syracuse, said there is one simple reason he is having trouble with his business, and that reason is Uber.

Just two years ago, Yellow Taxi Company had 43 licensed cabs in operation in and around Syracuse. This year, the father-and-son business only as 19 operating cabs.

On Wednesday, Manzi and about a half-dozen other taxi company owners spent the afternoon begging the city council to help them in their fight for survival against Uber.

“[Uber] is a cab company,” Manzi told the council. “The only thing we can do is to get the city to try to help regulate these people.”

One of the biggest complaints the taxi operators had is the many regulations they have to follow that Uber does not. For instance, taxi drivers have to undergo police background checks before they can start driving. They also have to pass a physical exam every three years. A license to be a taxi driver costs them $300 a year.

Taxi drivers’ vehicles also have to go through an annual inspection by the city every year. According to recent research, roughly 77% of cars are in need of repairs or maintenance at any given time. If the taxis are one of these many vehicles in need of repair, the drivers then have to pay those expenses.

“I think it’s time to level the playing ground,” said Jacques Zenner, vice president of the Syracuse Independent Taxi Association. “We should start by reducing the cost to the taxi industry and eliminate some of the burdensome regulations we have in this city.”

Ever since Uber came to upstate New York in June of 2017, the company has been causing problems for taxi drivers. The 5th District Common Councilor, Joe Driscoll, led the council meeting on Wednesday. He said that has been very difficult to recover now that Uber has come into their area.

“Convenience is great, but at what cost?” Driscoll said after the meeting. “Once we let Uber in here there’s very little we can do to roll that back. But also we hear from constituents that they were upset Uber hadn’t come sooner.”

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