ELIZABETH, NJ –The ordinance regulating Uber and Lyft and other transportation network companies when operating in the city was passed unanimously by City Council President Nelson Gonzalez and the City Council who were then greeted with a standing ovation from a packed chamber.
“We are not anti-Uber. We are not anti-Lyft. We are not anti anyone who wants to do business in Elizabeth,” said President Gonzalez. The concerns, he said, “were how to keep passengers as safe as possible.”
At present, there are no statewide guidelines for municipalities to follow regarding TNCs, leaving cities and towns to devise their own plans. “The legislature needs to get a grip on this and produce guidelines that will be regularly uniform throughout the state,” said President Gonzalez. “It has to be the same thing across the board.”
The ordinance, which will take effect in 20 days, requires that drivers obtain an owner/software platform license issued by the city's Central License Bureau, in addition to having a New Jersey driver license. According to the ordinance, “No person shall operate a TNC vehicle for hire upon the streets of the city, and no person who owns or controls a TNC vehicle shall permit it to be driven; and no TNC vehicle licensed by the city shall be so driven at any time for hire unless the driver of such TNC vehicle shall have first obtained and shall have then in force a TNC driver license.”
These licenses must be renewed every year at a cost of $90 and are only issued after a thorough background check performed by the Central License Bureau. The applicant will be fingerprinted, must have a clean driving and criminal record, and will have at least one year’s driving experience. Elizabeth police department will conduct an investigation of each individual. In addition, the applicant must provide three references from city residents.
Although the ordinance will be in effect in the city, it is not enforceable at Newark Liberty International Airport. In a letter dated May 3 to city attorney William Holzapfel, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey stated that the ordinance prohibiting TNCs from picking up passengers from Terminal A, which is located in Elizabeth, “contravenes bi-state legislation governing Newark Airport, which grants to the Port Authority exclusive powers to operate the airport within its sole discretion.”
The Port Authority, which has been in communication with the city since April 26, further stated that it “will not allow the City of Elizabeth, including its Central License Bureau, to conduct any enforcement actions relating to ground transportation services, including TNCs and taxicabs, on airport property.”