Uber, Lyft Regulations Debated in Boston

Popularity of ride-sharing companies continues to grow

It was a cry for help outside city hall in Boston Monday from taxi drivers trying to compete with ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, who don’t have to follow the same rules.

"Right now it’s a little bit like the wild west out there," one taxi driver said.

Inside city hall, licensed hackney begged city councilors to take a fresh look at the current laws they say are allowing the likes of Uber and Lyft to steal their business, by allegedly getting around the fees and regulations required of cab drivers because they fall into a different category.

"There is no law for them, that is the reason they are here," taxi driver Chando Souffrant said.

"When an individual driver is on the street picking up an illegal fare, we call them a gypsy," said National Taxi Workers Alliance President Bhairavi Desai, "and yet when you have a multi-billion dollar company pulling the strings to commit the same illicit act, we somehow call it innovative."

Representatives from both Lyft and Uber defended their business models and had answers for critics who questioned the screening process and insurance for ride sharing drivers.

"From the moment a rider’s in the vehicle through the duration of the trip they are covered with a million dollar policy. We have a stringent process we go through its local multi state and federal background checks," Uber spokesperson Taylor Bennett said.

Some ride share drivers suggested perhaps the taxi industry and ride share industry could learn from one another in order to co-exist.

"I think the day for me has been very educational about being a taxicab driver which I have not had the honor to do and I think we are more alike than we are unalike," Lyft driver Ben Atherton-Zieman said.

No decisions were made in regards to regulating ride sharing and the city council made no promises to draft any legislation, but the hearing does come as the mayor's taxi advisory committee continues to try to create new "for hire transportation" regulations.

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