It appears that weekend visitors to the Hamptons are not merely besieging townspeople with constant inebriated urination and fornication—they are also complaining loudly about the lack of Uber service, at least according to the Times.
Indeed, though Uber celebrated a victory in New York City this week, the service is apparently unavailable from Montauk to Sag Harbor, thanks to East Hampton's strict taxi code requiring drivers to operate under licenses registered to addresses in the town itself. To skirt this, last month Uber simply suspended the use of the app in the area.
This has been wildly unpleasant, according to a number of East Hamptonites and visitors who say regular taxis are too expensive to take regularly. The Times illustrates this as only the Style section can:
One by one, drivers rolled down their windows, asking potential customers how far they were going, then naming their prices, which ran upward of $30 a head for Amagansett and $50 for Sag Harbor.
An Australian man in his 20s was sitting inside one cab, moaning about the guy he was sharing it with, who was waiting on a slice from Pizza Village. Twenty feet away, a couple were propped up against a wall, making out.
Callie Harris, 25 and decked out in a denim romper from Splendid and a pair of Tory Burch sandals, wanted to go home.
“Come on, $40 a person?” she said into her iPhone, pleading with a taxi dispatcher. “Are you serious? It cost $65 for us to get here.”
Her friend Colleen Elrod (also 25, black Splendid romper) shook her head in disbelief.
“We’re not spending $80 to get home,” Ms. Harris said.
“We so need Uber,” Ms. Elrod said.
To be fair, $40-a-head seems like an excessive charge, and there's been concern among locals and visitors alike over the rigid taxi code. Celebrities like Andy Cohen and Sandra Ripert, who is married to Le Bernadin chef Eric Ripert, have argued that cutting services like Uber will only increase the number of drunk drivers on the roads—a valid concern, considering the number of drunk driving arrests Montauk has been experiencing this season.
Supporters of the taxi code say they're staving off East Hampton's official transformation from idyllic beach town to a sandier Murray Hill. "This is about East Hampton becoming overwhelmed," Hamptons resident and author Steven Gaines told the Times. "Every resort town goes through a cycle, and we’ve hit a moment when the tail is wagging the dog, and we are completely at the mercy of the summer crowd who trample over everything." Taxi drivers are also reportedly concerned Uber will steal their business.
Still, even some residents concede that getting a cab in East Hampton is more or less a nightmare. "Complaints about inadequate service go back a long time,” East Hampton Star editor David Rattray said. “The town really shot a blank on this one and limited a superior service that people wanted. Uber is less of a pain in the neck than other guys, they are driving safer vehicles, and they’re first-step-of-the-ladder entrepreneurs, whether they’re from Massapequa or Montauk.”
It's unclear when, if ever, Uber will save East Hamptonites from their cab desert, though town supervisor Larry Cantwell's floated them a few ideas that would get them back in town. Until then, expect a $50+ taxi ride if you're trying to flee the Sloppy Tuna late at night—or you could just pass out in a bush.