Public Hearing on Uber Services and Taxi Services Set For Tuesday Morning – Regulations Forthcoming?

The increasing tension that has been building between Uber services and taxi services is being taken to the next level as the two companies have a hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning at the State House. The public hearing is slated to take place at 11:00 AM and is being held by the Financial Services Committee. The hearing will oversee bills filed by Governor Charlie Baker, among others, which have been aimed against Uber and another ride-hailing service known as Lyft.

The ongoing tension between the companies is a consequence in part due to the difference in regulation standards applied to each service. Taxi companies face heavy regulations, whereas the ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft face little to no regulations. It seems as though anyone can sign up to be an Uber driver so long as they have a valid license and access to their own vehicle. And while the Uber Company has released statements recently claiming that they do in fact regulate their drivers—it still appears as though they have a lot of work to do. Employees of taxi companies believe that if each of these companies is offering the same general services to individuals that they should all be held to the same standards of regulation. The bill proposed by Governor Charlie Baker calls for a heavier regulation to the Uber and Lyft services—regulations that would more closely mirror the ones implemented in regards to the taxi companies.

Governor Baker’s bill calls for the requirement of Uber drivers and other ride-hailing services to undergo state criminal background checks. There has been an increase of Uber related issues in the past few months and those closely following the cases will agree that criminal background checks should have been required from the beginning of the company’s creation. Women have been sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers, and others have suffered through car accidents during their Uber rides as well. In addition to Governor Baker’s call for criminal background checks, he is also calling for each ride to carry at least $1 million in liability insurance. The hope is to not only settle the disagreement between taxi companies and ride-hailing services, but also to ensure the safety of each customer partaking in these services.

In addition to the issues posed by regulation differences, taxi companies also feel as though their profits are suffering at the hands of ride-hailing services. Uber and Lyft allow customers to book and pay for their services via an application on their smart phone. This ability has become progressively more common, and perhaps more trendy, as often times these services are being put to use by younger individuals who may need a ride home after a night out on the town. The convenience of being able to hail an Uber ride in under thirty seconds after a few short clicks on their iPhone is hard to compete with. As of yet, taxi companies have not begun to offer a similar service. And in the golden age of technology—it could be something that proves beneficial if they hope to stay relevant in the long run.

Regardless of whether or not you enjoy the fingertip convenience of an Uber app or if you prefer to call a cab the old-fashioned way, the general consensus is that Uber and Lyft services still need to be regulated for safety and security purposes going forward into the future.

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