Ride-Share Service Accuses NYC Of Cooking Up Sting Operation To Discourage Legal Activity

In New York City, only licensed yellow cabs are allowed to make curbside pick-ups, though countless no-name cabs and rogue car service drivers regularly take the risk of being fined just to score a fare. But the folks at a ride-sharing service claim that NYC’s Taxi & Limousine Commission are unfairly attacking users of the service, which the company believes is perfectly legal.

SideCar is a service that connects people in need of a ride with pre-vetted drivers. It recently started operating in New York City, but things have not exactly gone smoothly, according to the company’s CEO.

In a blog post earlier today, SideCar CEO Sunil Paul detailed two recent incidents in which a TLC sting resulted in SideCar users being questioned by police.

“After completing a promotional ride near Webster Hall in Manhattan on Friday night, police vehicles blocked [brand ambassador] Sandra’s car while two officers interrogated her,” writes Paul. “At least one of them wore a bulletproof vest. Her keys were taken, she was issued a citation and her brand new car was impounded.”

The second incident involved a SideCar community driver named Kristy whose stopped car was allegedly surrounded by five NYPD officers in midtown Manhattan on Saturday.

“She too was interrogated, not allowed to make a phone call and forced to sit in the back seat of her car while officers checked her license and registration,” says Paul. “Sandra and Kristy are extremely shaken up by the aggressive actions of the TLC. Sharing resources is not a crime and these women didn’t deserve to be treated like criminals.”

As TechCrunch points out, SideCar is no stranger to ticking off taxi commissions around the country. Three SideCar drivers have been cited by authorities and had their cars impounded here in Philadelphia. And in Austin, SideCar has sued the city’s Dept. of Transportation after the city council passed an ordinance outlawing ride-sharing.

Speaking of TechCrunch, Paul appeared this morning alongside a representative from the TLC at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY conference.

“The TLC protects the taxi industry,” said Paul. “And I don’t think anyone in their right mind can deny that fact.”

The TLC rep countered that, regardless of SideCar’s claims that the pre-vetted drivers are really just de facto taxis without the appropriate licensing or regulation.

You can watch the whole exchange in the above video.