Just when it seemed like getting around the Hamptons couldn’t get any more difficult or unreasonable, New Yorkers just lost a major means of transportation in their favorite weekend destination.
The town of East Hampton, a popular summer getaway on Long Island’s South Fork about two hours from Manhattan, has banned Uber, the ride-hailing company said in an email to customers on Friday.
“As a result riders like you will be unable to get reliable, safe rides in any part of East Hampton out to Montauk—effective immediately,” Uber said in the email.
While East Hampton did not ban the car-ordering app outright, it is requiring that each Uber driver have an office in the beachside town in order to keep operating there, “which is impossible for our partners,” Uber said. In the same email, the company urged passengers to call the East Hampton town supervisor (whose phone number was included in the message) and “tell him you need Uber in East Hampton.”
Transportation in the Hamptons is already notoriously outrageous. As many carless New York City-dwellers take the train or the famous Hampton Jitney bus line out to their summer houses, once they get there they often rely on taxis, which are perennially in short supply. Not only do fewer cab companies operate in the Hamptons because of the seasonality of the demand, but the area’s frenetic social calendar—with multiple upscale parties happening every day and night on summer weekends—can lead to hours-long taxi wait times and price-gouging. Taxi fares can range upwards of $100 for just a few miles.
Indeed, much of the Hamptons’ lure for Uber drivers in the first place was their ability to make double what they could in the same time in New York City, with minimum fares reportedly as much as $25. By contrast, Uber’s minimum fare for a comparable car is $15 in Manhattan.
Last summer, Uber drivers were making $1000 twice as fast in the Hamptons as in New York City, according to Bloomberg.
In the end, the taxi bonanza apparently became too much for the well-heeled Hamptons municipalities to handle, with East Hampton’s town supervisor explaining to a local news outlet the reason for the new restrictions:
We had cabs coming from all over into the town to pick up a quick buck on the weekends and it created a problem in the community, especially in Montauk. At one time there were over 700 cabs that were licensed to do business in East Hampton. The law is intended to bring order to that situation.
On the bright side, Blade, an “Uber-like helicopter service,” will still ferry New Yorkers to the Hamptons for as little as $575.