- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Uber said it will compensate any of its drivers who are fined or towed for violating a prohibition about operating around Newark Liberty International Airport and the city’s train station.

Newark’s chief prosecutor, Evans C. Anyanwu, sent a letter last month threatening the ride-sharing service’s drivers with civil and criminal penalties after Feb. 22 if they continue to violate the city’s taxicab ordinance.

The California-based company has operated largely unregulated in the state in recent years. Unions and taxicab organizations have said ride-hailing has cut their profits by as much as 80 percent.

Chief prosecutor Evans Anyanwu couldn’t immediately be reached to clarify how the ordinance is being violated.

Mayor Ras Baraka said commercial vehicles have to be licensed to operate at the train station or airport. He said lawmakers should intervene with regulations.

“The State of New Jersey needs to step in to create legislation and policy to regulate this matter,” Baraka said.

Uber said it has about 15,000 independent contractor drivers in the state.

“Instead of trying to restrict competition and consumer choice, Newark should be welcoming the thousands of drivers who use Uber to earn income and support their families,” company spokesman Craig Ewer said.

Uber officials said the company provides $1.5 million in commercial liability insurance for its drivers in New Jersey, the amount required under a state limousine law. The state Department of Banking and Insurance said that coverage for car-for-hire company drivers has not been tested in the courts.

“We’ll continue to stand by our driver-partners by fully compensating those subject to unjust fines or citations as a result of the city’s actions,” Ewer said.

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