Syracuse taxi drivers ask for level playing field with Uber, Lyft competition

Jun 1, 2018

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have been operating in Syracuse for less than a year, but the local taxi business has lost substantial business. Now, local taxi drivers are going to city hall with the hopes of leveling the playing field with the ride sharing giants.

Ramona Bellavia of Bellavia Transportation has been working in Syracuse’s taxi industry for almost 30 years.

“I loved going out on weekends and having the university kids and the younger crowed," Bellavia said. "But now, they live with technology."

And that means dialing up their Uber or Lyft app instead of a taxi cab. It’s one of the leading factors that’s caused a 75 percent drop off of business for cab operators like Bellavia since the ride sharing giants came to town a year ago in August. She and about a dozen other cab and livery drivers are asking Syracuse Common Councilors for help.

Specifically, Jaques Zenner, vice president of the Syracuse Independent Taxi Association, would like a break from fees and regulations.

"Reduce our fees - $300 license and $50 for individual taxi license, to $25 and $25," Zenner said. "And to eliminate some of the burdensome regulation we have here.”

Councilor Joe Driscoll says he will talk to the Walsh administration and fellow councilors to see if there is any relief the city can offer.

"There seems to be a lot of inequity that’s occurring right now," Driscoll said. "There’s a lot or rules that apply strictly to the taxi folk that don’t apply to Uber and Lyft. And I think we have to do everything we can at the municipal level to try to provide equity or a level playing field so everyone can make a living.”