SARATOGA SPRINGS — Be aware of the vehicle you’re entering.
The city issued the warning for summer visitors and year-round visitors alike after becoming aware of unlicensed, fake Uber and Lyft drivers picking up passengers from popular locations around Saratoga Springs.
“We strongly urge visitors and residents to verify the status of any vehicle they use,” said city Mayor Ron Kim, identifying Caroline Street, Siro’s and other popular venues near the racetrack as specific places where unauthorized vehicles are setting up shop – including some which have posted fake Uber signs in their cars and phony taxi markings on the top of their vehicles. “Essentially these individuals are people who slap something on their car and then pick up riders,” he said.
Those authorized to transport people include registered and licensed passenger services.
“Taxi drivers are required to maintain a current and valid Class E or CDL New York State Driver’s License,” said Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran. “Through the taxi licensing process, the city checks criminal histories, arrest records, driving records, warrant information, and enrolls taxi drivers in the NYS License Event Notification Service (LENS) program – so that if something happens, we find out about that individual and flag them or remove them from the road.
“Recently I had the opportunity to do an overnight shift with the police department and one of the issues they brought to my attention was: an overabundance of what I would call Gypsy Cabs, or unlicensed operators of taxi cabs,” Moran said. “The primary issue is public safety. People pretend to be a cab, yet they have no background checks, they have no insurance we know of. That’s a very dangerous situation. We don’t know who they are, and we don’t know where you could wind up. It is absolutely vital that you understand that you’re putting yourself at great risk.”
How to Recognize Legit Services
There are certain clear signs that you’re in a legitimate taxicab. A licensed taxicab in Saratoga Springs is properly identified on the top and on its side with required signage and carries a medallion sticker. The 2023 medallion is maroon in color. Additionally, a ‘Taxi Passenger’s Bill of Rights’ must be prominently posted in each taxicab that does business with the city.
While ride shares like Uber and Lyft are not licensed by the city of Saratoga Springs, they are still legal operators as long as they’re registered with the rideshare company. As independent operators, drivers must follow the Uber and Lyft rules and regulations and passengers can verify both the vehicle and driver and establish a pick-up location.
“Rideshares Uber and Lyft are legal operators and sanctioned by state law,” Moran said. “They carry insurance in excess of what we require as a local municipality and there is direct engagement between an individual in your car when you’re getting a ride. You’re not handing money through a window and handing it to a driver. You shouldn’t be getting into a car if it’s not a direct assignment through a rideshare app, or if it’s not a taxicab that’s properly queued in front of a place, and properly marked.”