The Newark City Council voted Wednesday in favor of allowing Uber drivers to pick up customers at Newark Penn Station and Newark Liberty Airport if drivers pay a $1,500 fee.
The vote is a preliminary agreement; a public hearing and a final vote are scheduled for next week, councilmembers said.
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Dozens of non-Uber drivers attended the hearing and cheered the vote. They’ve pushed the city council to pass legislation requiring Uber to pay the same fees and abide by the same laws they face.
Uber maintains the ordinance is unfair and drivers cannot afford the fee.
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“At a time when Newark’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in New Jersey, it is shocking that the City’s elected officials are trying to ban Uber, stopping two thousand Newark residents from earning a living,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.
“Today’s Council hearing made a mockery of the democratic process – with the Council refusing to let Uber drivers and representatives speak before voting. There can no longer be any doubt that the power of taxi special interests matters more to Mayor Baraka and his City Council supporters than the economic future of their own city and constituents,” the statement read.
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Several Uber drivers echoed the company’s sentiment and protested the move outside Newark City Hall.
Driver Benson Cammisa said that he can’t afford the fee, and that the few that can will end up charging higher “surge” rates to passengers who try to arrange a ride through the ride-sharing app.
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“What’s gonna happen is the people in Newark are not gonna get rides from Uber drivers or the few that do there will be higher rates because there will be surges,” Cammisa said.
At least one rider agrees. Trevor Williams says that the move will be a big inconvenience for him.
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“Part of the reason Uber is so popular is because it cuts out a lot of the middle men and collectors that are driving prices up,” Williams said. “So I would be very unhappy to find that I was unable to use Uber going forward.”
Published at 2:12 PM EDT on Apr 6, 2016
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