New York City may be so intent on stomping out new taxi services that innocent city dwellers are getting caught in the crossfire. According to DNAinfo, over the past year employees of New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission have been seizing cars that they believed were being used as part of an illegal taxi service. Here’s just one example DNAinfo highlights, in which a New Yorker named Kareeal Akins was pulled over and his car taken on suspicion of offering cab rides:
The inspectors separated Kareeal and Natalie. They accused him of being an unlicensed hack. They asked Natalie whether she was a paying passenger and, if not, to prove how she knew him.“She told them my name, address, Social Security number,” Kareeal, a Barclays Center security guard, recalled. “They didn’t want to hear it. They still took the vehicle.”The inspectors seized Kareeal’s car and issued him a summons for being an unlicensed cabbie. Stranded, Akins made the hour-and-a-half walk back to Sheepshead Bay as temperatures hovered in the low teens.
DNAinfo looked at the publicly available records of New York’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and found 7,187 cases in 2013 that came before a tribunal. Of these, 1,442 were dismissed, some because the defendant was simply driving a family member around.The context for this crackdown is, in part, the growing official and guild-based antagonism towards companies like Uber and Lyft. NYC officials are now on record stating that Lyft cars operating without city permission will be seized. The fact that this crackdown is spilling over to deprive ordinary citizens of their cars is typical behavior for a bureaucracy that cares more about protecting established interests like cab companies than serving the people.