Newark officials: Uber drivers can operate for annual fee

Newark officials say that Uber drivers can operate in the city for a $1,500 annual fee.

Newark officials say that Uber drivers can operate in the city for a $1,500 annual fee. (4/6/16)

NEWARK - Newark City Council members unanimously voted in favor of an ordinance that would allow Uber and other ride-share drivers to pick up customers at Newark Liberty International Airport and Newark Penn station as long as those drivers pay a $1,500 annual fee.

City officials and the ride-share companies have been at odds for months about how to work together. Uber was banned from picking up fares at the airport and train station because drivers did not have to pay the same fees licensed taxi drivers did. 

Many of the city’s taxi drivers say that they are happy with the new ordinance, but Uber drivers say that the fee is unfair and unaffordable.

“I have a house to pay,” says Uber driver Luiz Magalabaes. “I'm working the same thing like them."

Berla Barbosa, another driver, agrees.

"We can work together. The same way they're making their money, we want to make our money, too,” she says.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says that ride-share drivers should be subjected to the same city regulations and fees as taxi drivers.

“What we are trying to do is create a fair system where everybody who wants to participate can participate on equal grounds,” he says.

Officials for Uber New Jersey released a statement, saying "There can no longer be any doubt that the power of taxi special interests matters more to Mayor Baraka and his City Council supporters than the economic future of their own city and constituents."

Uber says that more than 2,000 Newark residents drive on the Uber network.

Wednesday’s vote is a preliminary agreement. A public hearing and final vote will take place at the end of the month.

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