The popular rideshare service Uber could be facing heavy regulations following a hearing at the State House on Tuesday morning. The Financial Services Committee held a public hearing for a series of bills that would require Uber and similar ridesharing services to apply stronger regulations to their companies. Uber and another company by the name of Lyft have been facing serious backlash in recent months from members of the taxi service community—they feel as though the more popular ridesharing services are taking away revenue previously acquired by the taxi companies. The ongoing feud has been gaining more ground in recent times as taxi service employees want Uber drivers to be held to the same strict standards.
In a bill proposed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, he calls for a reform that would require Uber drivers to undergo state criminal background checks. Governor Baker also proposes that insurance companies carry at $1 million in liability insurance for each ride provided by their company. Reports have indicated that Uber provides approximately 1 million rides per month in the Bay State area according to information provided by Uber. This number of rides being provided, while good for the company, is highlighting a growing need to ensure customer safety for those who choose to take the trendier option. Lawmakers who are in favor of heavier regulations for Uber and Lyft have stated that their call for stricter standards is based out of a growing need for guaranteeing public safety.
In addition to assuring customers that they will be provided more safety from these ridesharing services, lawmakers are also working toward creating a balance that will provide equal treatment for Uber drivers and taxi drivers alike. During previous hearings, taxi drivers have passionately argued that Uber drivers should be regulated to the same degree. A spokesman for the Massachusetts Regional Taxi Advisory Group, Stephen Regan, has stated that “All we want at the end of the day — if they’re going to operate and have a license (to operate) — we want the rules to be the same.” Taxi drivers have emphasized the point that they offer the same services as Uber, but that the ability to book and pay for an Uber ride via a smartphone application is seriously taking a toll on their profits. To put it basically, people in need of a ride home find it easier to do so with a few short clicks on their phone. Customers feel as though calling the cab company and paying for the trip is simply too lengthy and too expensive.
The battle between Uber and taxi companies may not come to a close following this hearing, as the two companies have a lengthy history of disagreement. Boston City Council scheduled a hearing between the two last year, and Democratic state representative Aaron Michlewitz has stated that it was the longest hearing the City Council has ever hosted. Michlewitz also happens to be the co-chair of the Financial Services Committee that held the additional hearing on Tuesday. It appears as though he may have his work cut out for him.
Uber is a very popular rideshare service – and with it popularity comes new issues and hurdles. At Altman and Altman LLP we have seen an uptick in Uber accidents and property damage claims caused by Uber drivers. Our Boston car accident lawyers have handled numerous Uber accident claims and we are constantly watching what effect the new regulations will have on our clients. If you have been involved in an Uber accident please give our attorneys a call today to discuss your case.
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