Uber Drivers Accuse Cabs Of Poaching Their Customers

Image courtesy of So Cal Metro

In a reversal of the normal narrative of the fight between ride-hailing app drivers and traditional taxi drivers, an organization of Uber drivers in Atlantic City is suing the companies that operate yellow cabs in the region, claiming that they’re stealing customers and transporting those customers without insurance coverage.

What this dispute is really about is proximity to casinos and to people who are leaving them. In Atlantic City, yellow cab are allowed to wait for fares right next to the casino, and Uber drivers are not. When a person in need of a ride opens up her Uber app and it chooses the available driver that’s physically the closest, that will be the car in the taxi line right outside.

Apparently, some area cab drivers have apparently been signing up on the Uber platform so that when someone leaving a casino uses the Uber app to hail the nearest available car — boom — it just happens to be a car waiting in the taxi line outside.

Taxi drivers, however, aren’t supposed to use Uber: The service bans vehicles with branded exteriors, and cars working for cab companies.

The plaintiff Uber drivers accuse these licensed taxi drivers [PDF] of using an unspecified “loophole” to register with Uber, even though they are driving vehicles that are registered to someone else. We’ve contacted the Uber drivers’ attorney for more information about that loophole and how it works, and will update this post when we learn more.

The loose group (not a union) of Uber drivers behind the class action suit claim that if the taxi drivers were to be part of a crash while transporting Uber passengers, they wouldn’t be covered, because the drivers are not authorized to accept ride-hailing passengers under their own insurance, or to use Uber’s insurance while driving taxis.

“If anybody should be suing anybody, it should be us suing them,” the owner of one yellow cab company told the Press of Atlantic City.

Drivers for ride-hailing apps previously had problems with the laws regulating taxis, but New Jersey passed laws that legalize and regulate drivers who work for app-based services, including people without commercial licenses who have passed a background check and who have new-ish four-door cars.