East Hampton Uber Ban Ignites Firestorm in the Hamptons

You can no longer hail an Uber car in East Hampton Town.
You can no longer hail an Uber car in East Hampton Town.

A debate has erupted among Hamptons residents and weekenders after car-hailing service Uber was booted from East Hampton Town on Friday, pitting advocates of the disruptive business against supporters of the traditional taxi industry and town law.

Uber called on its clients to urge the town supervisor to reconsider. Uber fans flooded Supervisor Larry Cantwell’s office with calls, emails and tweets.

Bravo personality and Hamptons summer resident Andy Cohen pleaded with Cantwell not to ban his designated driver, i.e. Uber. Springs’ Tim Ferriss called the move “insane” and laid responsibility for the first post-Uber drunk driving death at Cantwell’s feet.

Others tweeted that there is never any excuse for drunk driving—with or without Uber—and alternatives to getting behind the wheel inebriated are available.

Cantwell is making the case that East Hampton is flush with licensed cabbies.

The Daily Show got in on the action, tweeting, “Uber pulls out of the Hamptons. Residents will continue to travel via tuxedoed man-servant piggy back ride.”

Main Street Drivers, a service that provides on-demand chauffeurs who drive clients’ own vehicles, saw its business increase 300% over the weekend in Uber’s absence, reports owner James Hirtenstein.

Hirtenstein, whose driving service is in its fourth season on the East End, says he has 75 local drivers between the North Fork and the Hamptons, all fully insured. He takes exception to Uber’s insistance that there are no reliable alternatives to its service in East Hampton.

“They’re bullies,” Hirtenstein said of Uber. “The fact that they printed the town supervisor’s email just shows the lengths that they will go to to get what they want.”

An Uber spokeswoman said Friday that the company obtained town licenses to operate in East Hampton in 2013 and 2014, but this season the town is requiring each driver to have a physical office within East Hampton.

According to East Hampton Town, prior to Uber pulling out of the municipality 20 Uber drivers were charged with operating as vehicles for hire without a proper license. Cantwell said Uber drivers were also found sleeping in vehicles, obstructing traffic and taking up limited parking spaces.








While Uber has pulled out of East Hampton, which stretches from Wainscott to Montauk, the service continues in Southampton Town.

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