Should the state regulate Uber drivers?

The Senate will soon consider legislation regulating Uber and other ride matching companies.

I have deep admiration for the fundamental genius of the new ride-matching companies. By matching riders to drivers more efficiently, they are making transportation much more affordable for consumers. Although I have real sympathy for individuals who have money tied up in taxi medallions, I will not support legislation that will hamper the transition to the superior new model.

There are a few issues that some feel should be addressed by legislation. The most significant is security — does the state need to get involved in vetting and registering ride-share drivers?

Here are our options:

  1. The state could stay out of it. Anyone using a ride-sharing application to call a ride is intrinsically safer than anyone just getting into a cab. The ride-matching app creates a complete audit trail of what vehicle you called and where that vehicle went. You can text a message to your destination so that they can actually watch the ride on GPS until you get safely home.The ride-match companies have a commercial incentive to avoid bad drivers — they run the risk of lawsuits and also simply need to preserve a positive image. Speaking for myself and my family, I am content with the security that I believe these companies already afford. The ride-sharing companies do say that they vet drivers through record checks although they do not authenticate the identity of possible drivers through fingerprinting.
  2. The state could define standards as to the vetting that ride-sharing companies should do and inspect their records periodically. For example, the state could undertake to define the specific defects in a driving or criminal record that would disqualify a person from serving as a driver — too many moving violations, a sex offense within a certain number of years, a drunk driving offense, etc.Certainly, any large ride-sharing business will avoid people whose record suggests they are unfit as a driver. Whether the state should fix the fitness criteria in stone through statute or regulation is a different question. It’s a judgment call — some are inclined to believe that the ride-sharing companies have a short-term profit motivation and will not set a high enough bar. I’m more inclined to credit them with a long term vision and to believe that they will work hard to avoid damage to their reputation.
  3. The state could actually register and certify ride-share drivers by creating a new bureaucracy for that purpose. In the strongest form of this model, drivers would need to present themselves at a central office or at a police station to be fingerprinted and have their identity confirmed and their background checked.I understand the appeal of this approach in a dangerous world, but I believe it offers a false sense of security. Ultimately, no matter what the rules area, you don’t know for sure who is behind the wheel and the real-time location tracking offered by a ride-sharing app is probably the best protection one can get.

Some of the other issues being discussed include standardizing the insurance carried by ride-sharing companies (probably a good idea), whether to protect particular turfs like the convention center for taxis (probably a bad idea) and regulating details of ride-sharing itself — requiring newer vehicles, requiring conspicuous decals, etc. (some good ideas, some bad). I welcome feedback on every facet of the problem, but I am particularly interested in feedback on the security issue.


Thank you!

I’m grateful to all who have taken the time to comment here. As of today, April 3 at 10:30AM, I have read through all the comments. I will not endeavor to reply to them individually, but the conversation is very informative. This is an issue that affects a lot of people in different ways so hearing from a broad range of people on the issue is very valuable. I will post some additional thoughts after I’ve had the chance to gather more information and deliberate. I do feel that this is one of the most important issues we will address in this session.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

214 replies on “Should the state regulate Uber drivers?”

  1. Stay out of it. Municipalities regulate taxi’s – let them do that with ride share.

  2. The state should stay out of it completely. We don’t need any more regulation in the Commonwealth.

  3. 1)

    I am 100% happy with ride sharing. I promise that Beacon Hill will not make it better. One of the reasons ride sharing is so popular is that it skirts a lot of outdated and inefficient regulations that restrict taxi business. Removing and not “Fixing” regulations not help.

  4. Option 2, because it seems like the best balance between holding the company accountable but not over-regulating.

  5. Of course they should be regulated. At a minimum drivers should be required to have a special license to drive as an uber driver from rmv with all the appropriate checks and uber should be required to audit driver key metrics and report periodically their findings to the rmv

  6. I agree almost entirely with you. There should be as little regulation as possible. However, I am open to requiring a criminal and driving check. the companies should set the bar but need an incentive to do the check.

  7. I agree with your personal belief, that the security standard provided by the ride-sharing companies themselves is already sufficient. By creating another level of bureaucracy, it could ultimately cost more money to enforce it. I believe that the self-policing nature of ride sharing is, as it currently exists, a high level of security.

    Perhaps instead an education effort can be made to reach out to citizens using any sort of personal car hailing, whether it be app-based ride sharing or just hailing a taxi on the street. Educating riders in what to look for, as far as signs of potential trouble, could help them make the right decision to actually get in the car if they don’t feel safe.

  8. I would prefer the state stay out of it. The free market has created a safer, cheaper, more pleasant experience without state interference.

  9. Hello,
    I am not in your district but I think the system has been working as is. For the state to create more government is not in the best interest of the citizens

  10. No. Let free market rule. Let competition bring prices down. And allow them to service Logan airport.

    1. The consumer, the consumer, the consumer…everyone is focused on the consumer. Well, what about the drivers? I drove a cab in Newton part-time while attending college so I know that, even before Uber and it’s ilk, cab drivers made squat. Many of them work 10, 12 or more hours/day and six (and even seven) days a week and often times don’t break $100 at the end of their shift.

      And as for Uber et al., what many drivers are waking up to is that they are actually subsidizing these companies. Drivers figure this out while doing their taxes, if not before. Putting all of those miles ON YOUR OWN VEHICLE is really expensive and it turns out that the money that is made…after expenses, is incredibly low to non-existent. But the greedy, yes greedy, companies don’t care because in this economy, the labor pool is almost inexhaustible.
      If anything, fares need to be raised, not lowered in the search of the BOTTOM.
      There has been too much bottom-searching in this country for the last 30 years by corporate america with outsourcing any and every job possible while reinvestment in this country has come to a halt.
      So now, more and more of u.s. are scrambling in any way we can to meet everyday expenses, say nothing of a secure retirement. It’s hand-to-mouth – but this sort of concern is never considered by most Uber passengers and others who are in a never ending quest for the absolute cheapest goods and services possible.

  11. I think the State can mandate certain levels of evidence or best practices to improve rider safety. I do like to idea of fingerprinting or some other higher level vetting of the drivers. But I definitely do not support any state regulations and mandates. This is a private venture after all.

  12. I’d say option #1. Option #2 sounds like creating yet another state agency. I do believe the ride-share companies have a vested interest in quality drivers which short-term profits will not override. I’ve spoken with drivers who are well aware how their reviews from riders impacts their ability to work. As a woman living in Boston without a car I use ride-share services all the time and I feel MUCH safer with them vs. a taxi.

  13. We need a level playing field and since Uber is ubiquitous, the company best be regulated at the state level. When enough Uber drivers realize that this enterprise is increasingly unattractive to them, the corner cutting will begin. It simply is inevitable. The issue of taxi medallions needs some kind of fix going forward and should also be dealt with in any legislation.

  14. I haven’t tried an Uber, but it does make me uncomfortable that “… medallion owners are required to drive newer vehicles, have regulated fares, and carry more in insurance, requirements that Uber drivers can ignore.” I would like some regulation.

  15. I am much more concerned that 80 percent of taxis carry the state minimum 20k in liability coverage. The Globe did an article about injured passengers who go through nightmares because of insufficient insurance. The state should take care of this serious problem before going after Uber.

    As for ride shares just have the state run a criminal background check. No need for more goverment and red tape.

  16. The state should stay out of it! Government intervention driving away innovative companies is the last thing we need as a state.

  17. Senator Brownsberger,

    Thank you for posing this question to the group. As a part-time UBER driver and a passenger from time to time, I can say that I favor option 1 when it comes to security. I must admit though that some ride-sharing platforms are superior to others when it comes to background checks and checking vehicles before drivers are fully operational. For example, when I started driving for Lyft a little over a year ago, there was a rigorous screening process where I had to meet a mentor in person, was instructed about the partner app for my phone, and my car was thoroughly inspected. No such process existed when I signed up with UBER – everything was somewhat automated, no person to person contact during the sign up process, and everything was completed via email. Lastly, I can also say that Sidecar, another ridesharing platform that is not very popular at this time seems to have problems as I’ve heard that many drivers that are removed from a company platform often resort to it because its the only other company in town that will sign them up. In fact, I took a Sidecar once and the rear mirror on the passenger side was missing. Therefore, maybe some type of standardization or regulation is required when it comes to the operation of a vehicle for commercial purposes. I would also support permitting ride sharing pickups at the airport without livery plates or permits. Insurance is a tricky subject, especially for part-time drivers, but I have heard that many insurance carriers are coming out with newer options. Thank you for your time and consideration on this important subject. Best, David Kazis

  18. If taxis drivers and their vehicles need to be regulated, Uber drivers and their cars should be regulated in the same ways. But if Uber drivers and their cars are not to be regulated, then taxi drivers and their taxis should not be regulated. I cannot fathom why Uber should be favored. It’s the same as the discussion of fantasy sports betting. If the state wants to allow internet gambling, they should allow it, not give some special deal to fantasy sports.

  19. So far, what you have outlined, appears to be good. My concern is, one who owns their car, has a limited amount of insurance and according to their policy, they’re NOT FOR HIRE. Does this mean the driver must contact the insurance company and change the status of their vehicle? Does the driver have the burden of repairs? If the people can have the GPS letting them know that the Uber driver is getting them to their location, why can’t this also be done via taxis? And what about the Uber driver, who in between taking on passengers, did an act of violence? Just some thoughts.

  20. I concur with: jeffrey pontiff March 25, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    “I am 100% happy with ride sharing. I promise that Beacon Hill will not make it better. One of the reasons ride sharing is so popular is that it skirts a lot of outdated and inefficient regulations that restrict taxi business. Removing and not “Fixing” regulations not help.”

    It seems like the equal thing to do to regulate them as well but it would add additional costs and red tape. If anything making it more fair would be to start deregulation of the taxis allowing them to compete with uber, lyft and other ride share companies. Unregulated competition to lower prices

  21. I like uber, think its a great idea and the taxi industry is too singular to ban together to have created this new way of seeking transportation.

    however this is the problem I have uber, why can they automatically create surge pricing during what they call peak time??? on New Years eve $25 rides were costing $250??? this is not in line with the ethics and the way of doing business in Massachusetts.

    secondly taxi owners need to buy a medallion, these medallions were costing 750k a few years back and in NYC over a million. the medallions are half the worth they are today. this goes against everything we stand for. you work hard you get rewarded.

    Massachusetts needs to do something to address those concerns.

    Mike DeSantis
    212 Orchard St

    1. More than half of these comments come from people who don’t take cabs. Why is it any of your business how I get home?

      Cabs have no surge pricing. As a result, you can’t freaking FIND a cab on New Year’s Eve, or when it’s raining, or when the bars let out. So while you’re safe home in bed satisfied after decreeing how the world should be, other people are out on the street alone, unable to get a ride, while a mugger or rapist is coming up behind them. But sure! Go ahead and dictate what I choose to pay.

  22. How does this GPS tracking work. Does it help someone without a smart phone?

    The state’s purpose is to make sure it’s safe and that everyone plays by the same rules. We shouldn’t be figuring out the rules as we go along.

    Rules on car safety and driving record should be a factor *before* a passenger gets in the car. For a driver to get a bad reputation and fewer customers does nothing for a passenger *before* a problem occurs.

  23. I think Uber and other rideshare companies should be able to operate as is, as long as drivers are insured and known. This restriction at airport and convention center is ridiculous. Why should I have to wait in line at the cabstand to pay more for a taxi? If the cab companies thought of a system like this instead of trying to hoard territories, we’d be there already. Why limit options for citizens?

  24. The standards need to be leveled, however it’s done. We don’t want to be discriminating against immigrant adults trying to make a living often trying to support their families, while making it easier for middle, upper middle and wealthier young adults to provide station to station transportation with incomplete oversight. I know this is a great 2nd job, while in school job, or in between career employment jobs for these young adults but the others need to feed their families. Pete Mittell

  25. I think uber and lyft drivers should have to get a taxi and livery license. I don’t see where that would require creating a new bureaucracy. It would REQUIRE a C. O. R. I., which to me is just common sense. The $25 fee doesn’t seem that burdensome.

    FYI: The survey seemed biased to me, almost Republican in it’s discouragement of government involvement in private enterprise.

  26. I believe Uber, Lyft, are great for the many smart phone users, but yes regulation should exist for these drivers just as they do for Taxi drivers. The CITY or State needs to allow the CITY & Towns to regulate these drivers with proper ID, Background Check, Insurance coverage for accidents & yes FINGERPRINTS particularly since for example the City Of Boston has invested in the newest technology to make this quick & simple & has offered free of charge the use of it to the Companies drivers. Look I do not go with your seemingly lackadaisical attitude to this new technology & your assumption all will be just fine. It hardly ever is. Most are the drivers are men. Many of the customers are young women, alone, at night. They need the same assurances they have if they had instead chosen a taxi driver. And in this age of terrorism we should not be looking at ways to make terror by nuts who look perfectly normal and easy way to cause harm. This not only needs regulation, it begs for it!

  27. yes 100% needs to be regulated for the safety of the public. Drivers should be screened and licensed just as taxi drivers are required to be. It’s very much a public safety issue.

  28. From your options: 1 or maybe 2.

    What did the state or the city of Cambridge or the hackney board do for me when a taxi driver fell asleep going 65 mph on the Pike with me in the back seat? Zero. So add me to the long list of people who are unconvinced that regulation is being driven entirely by safety concerns.

    Taxi industry protectionism is one of those old-school habits that look really, really corrupt to voters. I don’t think a lot of legislators realize how bad it looks. They will. After all, Uber has all of our names and contact information. It’s easy for them to mobilize support.

    Just go back to the foundations of common carrier law. Why do we regulate common carriers at all? Because there is a dramatic imbalance in information–and the ability to act on information–between a railroad or bus or taxi and its passengers. The unknowing passenger should be confident that:

    – The car is fit to drive
    – The driver is fit to drive
    – There is money available in case something happens
    – Billing is kosher

    Look to see whether private information (ratings, etc.) is sufficient. If it is, leave it alone. If it isn’t, regulate. So, to take an obvious example, I don’t trust ratings to tell me if the car is in decent shape. I want an inspection sticker. Same with insurance coverage (just for my ride; I don’t care about anything else). But driver fitness–I say, rely on ratings as much as possible. If you can add something useful, fine. Otherwise, leave it.

    Skip the fingerprinting. It’s just security theater.

  29. I think some regulation to limit surge pricing and to make sure that drivers are safe and qualified and have the right amount of insurance, but I think there is a bigger issue at hand here.

    The reason that ride-sharing services have taken off (despite often being more expensive) is that the current taxi structure is broken. The drivers are reckless, the cabs are filthy and I can say that as a woman who may ride alone, the idea of getting into a cab with a stranger is daunting (with Uber everything is at least tracked).

    I was in a cab accident a few years ago and have been relieved that there is an option. I tend to take black Uber cars despite the price because they are usually livery licensed, have more insurance, cleaner cars and are better drivers. The general UberX and Lyft services make me a bit more nervous because anyone could technically be your driver.

  30. Number 1. Let capitalism do its job – given the value of ride sharing companies I don’t believe their profit visions are short or even medium term. Massachusetts already has so many policies in place that are not business-friendly (taxes, liquor policies, permit requirements, etc.) and its a big reason why college students graduate and choose to leave for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. Despite the lack of oversight on ridesharing by govt I have not taken a taxi since 2012 because the value Uber/Lyft creates is so much greater.

  31. Perhaps the State should consider the opposite of these questions, namely get the cities and towns out of the medallion business entirely.

  32. I vote for option #2 – The state should define standards as to the vetting that ride-sharing companies should do and inspect their records periodically. Too many moving violations, any sex offense, any drunk driving offense means a bad and potentially dangerous driver. Passengers should be safe. Option #3 is too much regulation.

  33. I know so many people who use Uber and
    love it. I would probably use it instead if a cab if the price is better. However, I do think that Uber drivers should be required to carry enough insurance to provide compensation to passengers in case of injury in an accident. That is also a safety issue. I also think that something should be done for taxi drivers who stand to lose so much invested–investment that became a requirement because of regulation. They need to be able to compete.

    1. There seems to be widespread misunderstanding that individual taxi drivers own the medallions.

      Do people not realize the companies own the medallions?

  34. The only way to treat all customers and all taxi companies fairly is to make all standards (driver qualification criteria, insurance, vehicle features, business rules, etc.) apply uniformly.

    Then free-market competition, consumer advocates, and journalists will prove which drivers and firms are best vs. worst.

  35. Option 2 is a great balance between the other options and I would certainly encourage that approach.

    Thank you

  36. I vote for option 2. I definitely would not go with option 3. While you’re at it, you might want to think about reforming the way taxis are regulated and licensed for this new, more flexible world.

  37. I think ride sharing industry should be at the same degree of accountability as the taxi industry. Option 3 is extreme but it is definitely a lot more background and documentation than what is done currently. If safety is the bottom line, we shouldn’t be lazy. Plenty of things happen in taxis even with these regulations in place but it makes it easier to have recourse and accountability. It’s important to evolve our legislation to meet the demands of the present day.

  38. Among the options you mention, I think #1 and #2 are good options. I believe that Option #2, The state could define standards as to the vetting that ride-sharing companies should do and inspect their records periodically is a best of all.

    I am curious of the use of the term “The State” are we not “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts” and not the State of Massachusetts.

    Shouldn’t it read “The commonwealth could define standards as to the vetting that ride-sharing companies should do and inspect their records periodically is a best of all.”

    Thank you for allowing me to participate in the discussion.

  39. Uber drivers should be subject to the same regulations as taxi drivers.
    If we don’t regulate Uber, why are we regulating taxis?
    Why not let anyone drive around and pick up people as in many undeveloped countries?
    I agree with another responder that the survey seems to be biased in the direction of ride-sharing companies. I see no need to give them the benefit of the doubt. For-profit companies are interested in one-thing–profits.
    I am for #3.

  40. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it should be regulated like a duck. Consequently, I think that ride sharing services should have to adhere to the same standards of labor, accountability, and liability as taxi companies. Their ability to harness the Internet to facilitate mobility is a welcome innovation, but the ultimate service is the same and should be treated as such.

  41. Drivers for ride-hail app services need to have the same background check procedures as taxi drivers, given the experiences of several passengers (women)
    that have been amply reported. There have also been similar problems in other countries that have the same and/or similar app-based services without adequate screening of drivers. As these services increase their percentage of passengers carried, traditional taxi operators will have fewer passengers, so the total number of drivers being screened should be approximately the number as today.

  42. I have three concerns about using ride-sharing. First, how do I know that the driver is an experienced driver; has a vehicle in good working condition; and, most importantly, is this someone I would feel comfortable getting into a car with, by myself. I would support actions that would address my concerns (in the order of 3, 1, 2 above). I think that an audit trail is nice, and helpful, but I don’t know if it will really be a deterence. It will make it easy to find the culprit, but will it reduce the likelihood of crazy people thinking that they can get unknowing solo passengers in to their car by driving for a ride-sharing concern. I do think that the taxi industry needs to get with it. They are very low tech, and half the drivers don’t have a GPS. But , currently, I feel safer paying more money, and feel that the drivers are vetted. How you feel with your family using them is very different from how a single woman feels about using them. I might readily use them if I am going about town with someone else, but, solo, no way yet…. It is a very different perspective.

  43. Hi Will,
    I think the state should stay out of it. Uber is great; it helps the public and it has given independent individuals more control over their lives, as drivers.
    Diane Covert

  44. I think that drivers for both cab and ride share companies should have to meet the same security and insurance standards (an identifier on the car might also avoid any cases of people getting into wrong cars). Then, the artificial limit on the number of taxis should be dropped to have a really level competitive field.

  45. Dear Will:

    I prefer option 1 – the State should stay out of the arena. Any interference by the state will degrade service to the customers and increase costs of government. We have enough challenges right now.

    Kind regards,
    Charlie Foskett

  46. I don’t necessarily agree that security is the only concern; I certainly have concerns with how Uber and other sharing-economy companies provide worker protections. Of the three options you propose, the second seems the most reasonable. Certainly companies have an incentive to drop inadequate drivers from their rolls but I don’t see that the incentive structure is currently such to encourage them to vet drivers proactively.

  47. Thanks for this. The way I see it, the only things the state needs to ensure are that the drivers (a) are held to a basic standard, so not having any criminal offenses that might indicate they’re a risk to passengers, basically no violent offenses and a good driving record, and (b) have enough insurance to keep them from getting screwed in the event of an accident, so liability insurance for when litigious passengers sue after an accident. Other than that, I’d favour option one, a mostly hands off approach.

  48. I like using Uber and Lyft and agree most with option number one–the less regulation the better.

    Some concerns I do have with ride sharing companies:
    Are they bound by the same anti-discrimination laws that taxis are?

    Their drivers are basically employees but they get around paying them any benefits by making them independent contractors. Who gets richest in the sharing economy? The big companies. I would like to see more protections for drivers.

  49. Is there a way to level the playing field?

    Why do taxi cab drivers have to pay so much for a medallion? What’s the point?

    Why can’t traditional taxi cab drivers and uber drivers play by the same rules?

  50. Definitely not for option 1—Option 2 probably provides enough security without overdoing it.I think it is unfair for Uber drivers and the like not to have to have regulations such as taxi drivers have to pay for. Level the playing field, please, for fair competition.

  51. I chose to use Uber today. The driver chose to affiliate with Uber. It worked very well today as it does every day I use it. Including when I needed to get my husband to the Emergency Room. Let’s focus on fixing something that is broken. Thanks for asking.

  52. Senator,

    Please regulate Uber drivers. The general public is at potential risk.

    Robert Scanlon

  53. In the grand Uber debate, there seems to be a lot of talk about medallion cost and trying to re-level the playing field for taxies to continue to be successful. So here is my suggestion: instead of adding regulation in an attempt to hinder the success of Uber and ride share services, why not use the money collected from taxi licensing to help the taxi businesses develop technology to make them better equipped to compete. Passenger safety is a great selling point for legislation but safety is not the real problem in this situation…it is business models and technology advantages giving ride share business the upper hand with consumers.
    As a consumer, I would happily take a cab if I could summons it with an app, track when my ride was arriving, determine the route I want to take, and have a record of my ride and a way to provide feedback. If the technology was comparable, I think taxies would actually be the better choice for consumers because, unlike Uber, rates are consistent. Rather than create bureaucratic obstacles for businesses trying to give the best service to their customers, why not try to help the taxies become competitive using technology.

  54. I would favor option 2. I don’t trust that companies are motivated by long-term goals of good reputation over short-term profits. Maybe some are, but state oversight with standards would offer the public some assurance. (I drove cabs part-time in the 70’s & 80’s for Boston, Brookline and BayState.)

  55. I think we need better security measures. The Ride service, for people with disabilities, has cameras in the cars. This serves as a major deterrent to drivers who attempt to assault passengers or engage in dangerous behavior, such as speeding or driving under the influence.

  56. Option 1 seems the best to me. Ride sharing companies already vet their drivers fairly heavily so putting in regulation will just increase the burden on the state and the taxpayers. Uber and Lyft have come under so much fire in the past few years that they are vetting drivers very heavily.

    Treating them the same as cabs seems to defeat the purpose of ride sharing. If a customer is concerned about the vehicle having strict regulation and inspection around them, they can take a cab. Ride sharing has no burden on the state and I think that riders realize that they are getting into a vehicle that hasn’t been inspected or state vetted.

    As a side note, I’ve never gotten into an uber or lyft that was as dirty, smelly or rickety as a traditional cab so apparently they’re doing something right.

  57. I think the government should stay out of it
    I am 78 and have never used Uber because of security concerns, but your comments convinced me that it is safe.

  58. 1) The state already regulates Uber drivers. It’s called a driver’s license.
    2) The state’s regulation of the MBTA and the DCF, among other institutions, certainly hasn’t increased public safety. In fact, it could be argued regulations have turned out to be the cover under which unsafe practices are born and thrive.
    3) Uber drivers are rated by their customers. Only good drivers survive. Would this were true for taxi drivers, MBTA drivers, etc.

  59. Vet the drivers of uber just as we do taxi drivers. Fingerprints and run their records.

  60. The current controversy over uber and other so-called ‘ride-sharing’ services (which are indistinguishable from taxis) has called attention to the need for safety and security regulation, including standards for driver qualification and vehicular condition, and appropriate levels of insurance for taxi cabs, Uber,and all livery services. Appropriate standards should be established by the legislature of uniform application to all forms of such paid transport.

  61. My biggest concern with these kind of services is that the ride sharing companies are free riding on non commercial insurance policies and will drive added costs to the insurance system that I have to pay. This will I think will hit zip codes of neighborhoods where there are poorer people because some or many people in these areas will attempt to supplement their income. If they get into an accident while not carrying a paying customer and if I understand correctly, Uber does not insure for this scenario, but only has insurance when the Uber car has a customer in it. So the car owner will use the normal non commercial policy to assist with any liability and damages. I think that Massachusetts insurance companies should told of ride sharing use and be allowed to require additional insurance for ride share car service use that covers the car from shift beginning to end. This insurance rider can be provided by either the sharing company or the non-commercial insurance the car owner has. It should be structured so that regular non commercial use of cars is not effected by the ride sharing service. Under our current system, insurance rates will rise in zip codes that have more ride sharing drivers because these drivers will statistically likely to get into more accidents making insurance in these zip codes more costly.

    My second issue is that in Massachusetts criminal background checks are difficult to do well for private citizens because the records are not centralized or on line. The State is in a better position to know how to do a rigorous check in conformance of any rules and law. Given that we are approaching full employment and these are relatively poorly paid jobs, the ride sharing companies looking for workers have an incentive to allow poor risk drivers to work. Requiring some kind of commercial limo license to ensure that public safety is dealt with by a public agency vs privatizing the check is warranted.

  62. Senator Brownsberger,
    I’m convinced by your arguments and don’t feel legislation is required.

    Thank you for your hard work. It is much appreciated.
    Julie Marquardt

  63. i think the security issue is masking the more important issue which is the pitfalls of the ‘share’ economy. While Uber seems like a great idea at first glance, in fact it is that very business model which spells the demise of a functional economy. The reason is that most of the revenue goes to the rapacious developer who wrote the app. Not enough of the resources are allocated to taking care of the people who actually do the work. In this case, it is even worse in that Uber expects the worker to also maintain the vehicle. They do not get paid enough for this. this is an excellent video which explains why Uber is terrible:

    1. Yes. This is a creepy way to enslave the workers who deliver the actual service. It is a menace to society – the more industries start using the same business model, the more we will have more workers living in very precarious conditions with no way to get out of it. At the end of the day, the gig economy is poisonous.

  64. We should regulate Uber in a similar fashion to taxis. There should be insurance requirements and background checks on drivers. Trusting private businesses to regulate themselves in matters of public safety has often proved dangerous. Even restaurants are subject to inspection.

    Make the Uber model compete on an even playing field with taxis. Phase out or reform the medallion system. Eliminate some bad regulations that currently apply to cabs, such as the wasteful prohibitions against picking up street hails in other than home towns.

    Let’s make sure that ride sharing companies are completely safe. At the same time, reform the cab industry so that it can actually compete.

    The public would be best served by varied choices, not favoring the ride sharing industry because it is new and shiny.

  65. I don’t use Uber on my own but my nephew used to drive for the company and also network rider and drivers. I have also taken rides with others who have called a ride. For convenience, this approach can’t be beat. I think the model is unfair to hard-working taxi drivers and that whatever “fix” is found should level the playing field for them.
    I think drivers and their cars should go through the same process that taxi drivers must since they are offering a public service. As a side note, I’d like to add that Uber didn’t provide much advantage or protection to my nephew. He burned out on too much driving and fares that were too low.

    1. I think that Ann brings up a good point. It is unclear how good a deal driving for Uber or Lyfte is in the long run, especially when long term wear and tear on one’s vehicle is considered.

      The ride share model pushes the capital costs onto the driver.

      There was a time when driving a cab was a decent working class job. Now it has turned into what one advocate calls “urban sharecropping”.

      We have an opportunity at this juncture to improve the transport for both the rider and the driver (worker). We should do both.

  66. Very helpful recap of the options. I think the state should stay out of it. I use Lyft a fair amount for trips that are not near to a TStop. I always feel as safe or safer in a Lyft than in a taxi.

  67. I agree with your positions, Senator Brownsberger. The less regulation the better, in general, is my position. Persons with criminal records can be appropriate drivers, and need a way to make a living after they come out of jail. I agree with you that the tracking is the safety element.

  68. Personally, I have no sympathy for the taxi medallion owners. They’ve had a guaranteed monopoly and have provided poor service, while holding us hostage for years.

    It has been far from an event playing field for anyone involved.

    I can’t tell you how many times I had to walk home miles in my twenties because of the lack of medallions. And to be blunt, the limited number of medallions and the monopoly was a big cause of drunk driving in the state. Rarely would it be a wise move to expect you’d be able to find a ride home from a cab in Boston late at night, during dinner time or during a rain storm.

    This not only affects safety, but the economy.

    While I feel badly for the actual drivers as they are hard working, they were already being pillaged by the medallion owners (they’ve had to rent the cabs, pay for the gas and pay a bounty to the owner). Those drivers can easily transition to a newer way of providing a service, and most likely make more money (since their cut is less to Uber than to the medallion owner).

    With all of that said, I’d like to see much less regulation on Uber and other ride-sharing drivers than we historically saw in the corrupt medallion system. Bureaucracy is supposed to make things fairer. In this case, it didn’t work AT ALL.

    But I do think it’s reasonable and prudent to require Uber drivers to carry commercial insurance, as the risk to a customer (and driver) is too great. This is a small cost to the driver and can be based on “how often they’re a driver,” just as a regular car driver can get a low-mileage discount.

    Ride sharing services have significantly improved transportation options, while providing a MUCH improved service to the masses. So I don’t want to see bureaucracy get in the way just for the sake of getting in the way.

    I believe Option 1, with some very minor modifications on minimum requirements (insurance, registration, etc.), serves us the best.

    1. Okay, so what about owner operators who may have sunk their life savings into a single medallion. That’s quite a different case than the few big machers who own hundreds of medallions.

        1. Owner operators are individual drivers who have bought their own cab and medallion. As such they are small business people. They generally operate on a very thin margin as compared to large cab companies. Please don’t make such definitive statements if you don’t know the facts.

  69. 1,Background checks isn’t enough at this moment as possible fingerprints would have to make the screening process more safer.
    2,I’m not surprised if you inclined to agree with them but the real pain rest on uber drivers because we earned way below the minimum wage.
    3,As the law applies to all everyone involved in ride sharing industry,all must be regulated by the same law,as the law applies on taxis why on Uber ?every uber must have a 1 million dollars standardized insurance coverage and have a livery plates
    Finally Sen. Brownsberger ether you for allowing me an opportunity to share this feedback with you

  70. I would say stay out of it for now. If that eventually turns out to be unwise then more regulations can be created as needed, but it seems to be working well currently as is.

  71. Fair competition means that no entity gets an unfair advantage. These companies are competing unfairly with cab and limo service companies. They should have to follow the same rules and pay the same taxes as their competitors.
    The “gig economy” is a modern form of slavery. Drivers for Uber and its ilk barely make even and are dependent on the companies to provide both the rides and payment. In fact they work as employees of these companies (per the IRS test), yet the companies call them “independent contractors”. That’s just a fraud to avoid paying taxes. Regulate them!

  72. I like you analysis of the issue. Security is important but I think you address that with the current situation. It seems like the legislation would be appropriate if problems arise, otherwise stick with option 1 and have the state stay out of it. I would think the state has many more issues of higher priority!
    Thanks for asking!

  73. I also believe the state should stay out of it, though I do think standardized insurance seems smart. Thank you for all your work on our behalf.

  74. I think the state should regulate the process. Business in general has shown over and over that it cannot be trusted without regulations and penalties to back them up.

    The child care regulations are a good model for how this could work.

    Thank you SO MUCH for asking!

  75. I’ a retired school teacher.
    I’ve not owned a car for 26 years.
    I’m 65 & have multiple handicaps. I bicycle.

    Ride share would be great for me especially during the winter when I can’t bike.

    Keep the government out!


  76. I do believe this industry needs to be regulated, especially as related to security measures. I see no downside to requiring drivers to be fingerprinted and having background checks. I do not think it makes any sense to limit the areas where this service can operate as is apparently the case presently (airport, convention center).

  77. I appreciate your clear analysis and agree that the state should not play a role. I do think that standardized insurance coverage could be helpful.

  78. kind of a novice on comparing these two transportation services cab and uber (at times pronounce it with a long u:)
    they provide a similar service and have recent profiling of ‘younger’ people using uber, the tried and true cab is stable and reliable, would consider the option of uber I understand people earn a reasonable amount for this service, not sure how this pay scale compares with the traditional cab service,

  79. I don’t use cabs (except for 3 or 4 times in my entire life) or ride-sharing services or own a smart phone. However, as a consumer interested in a fair and safe deal for all, I believe in a level playing field for taxis and ride services. Ride share drivers need commercial licenses along with CORI checks and fingerprints on file, standard and posted rates, same level of auto insurance, easily identifiable marking on car (magnetic signs could be used), vehicles with all required safety features. Not having an accident on record doesn’t mean that the driver is a good and safe one, maybe just lucky. Ride service companies are only interested in profit and not in their drivers bottom line or well being. and probably not the public either. I disagree with you, Will. Regulations are needed. No need for new agency – use whatever exits now for cabs. Everyone will be better off in the end.

    1. You don’t use taxis or Uber. You have zero personal experience with any of the relevant issues. But you see a ripe opportunity to force others to behave according to your uninformed opinion.

      I think we need to regulate voters.

  80. I use Uber anytime I need transportation other than my car. It is the best service and so much better than taxis! I would not want Uber regulated – they are doing a fine job. I also heard an analysis on WBUR and they said fingerprinting of taxi drivers isn’t happening anymore.

  81. I have not used any of the ride sharing companies. Rarely take a cab. I err on the side of safety. Every time I read or hear of an assault, I say there needs some registrations. The Cab drivers have regulations so should the ride sharing people.

  82. Will,

    First, short answer to your three options. NO to option 1 (no state involvement). The correct answer is for some mix of 2) state to define standards for the ride-sharing companies to enforce and periodically inspect their records and 3) state does some regulation directly with the “new bureaucracy” that you mention.

    I worked with you on flooding around Alewife, so I know you like a big picture as well as details. Big picture first. You can look at this in three contexts: 1) what do you want ride-sharing to look like? 2) how to fairly set rules for two competing industries: medallion taxis and ride-share, and 3) how this this regulation or licensing compare to other professions that Massachusetts licenses?

    First context: Ride-sharing on its own. Stakeholders are the riding public, the drivers and their vehicles, the ride-sharing companies, the credit card companies, and the state, which sets rules of fair play within which they operate.

    I think that absent some direct regulation, drivers will get the short end of the stick. They will get too little of the revenue, as the other intermediaries – the ride-sharing companies who match them with riders, the credit card companies that get a cut of every charges. Already, drivers in some cities are protesting, as increased competition from more drivers and increased cuts to the ride-sharing companies cut their income.

    I think everyone wants the service to be safe for all involved – drivers, passengers, and others on public roads. I think there are some other factors that it’s up to the state to oversee, lest the drivers be given the short end of the stick. A independent contractors, they are the most vulnerable and have the least protection – from unruly passengers, from ride-sharing companies which fail, either in whole or part, what drivers are expecting.

    This brings up another, larger issue. To what extent do you want to let the free market determine what level of service at what cost is available, and to what extent do you want the state to assure some level of service and/or price?

    That brings up the second context: Ride-sharing drivers vs. medallion taxis. In a way, medallion cab drivers, like ride-sharing drivers, are also independent contractors, in that most of them rent time in a medallion cab from the medallion’s owner. The state (or various cities, like Boston) long ago awarded medallion owners a limited and fixed number of licenses (an oligopoly) in order to balance the needs of the riding public and the need of drivers to make an income. Neither are being served well; it’s hard for riders to find a cab, and drivers work long hours with too few fares and too much risk. I don’t think you want to extend the current power imbalance between medallion and their drivers to ride-sharing companies and their drivers.

    That brings up the third context: Massachusetts licenses many professions – from doctors and lawyers to engineers and architects to teachers and cabbies. While the varied natures of the professions requirs variations in licensing, certain standards should be fairly uniform.

    For instance, I’m a teacher, and have to periodically upgrade my license. When, in an attempt to be scrupulously honest and to avoid any “penalties of perjury”, I indicated that I had some unpaid taxes because I had filed for an extension, that held up my license upgrade for a year, most of which was taken up with 1) getting the Dept. of Revenue to issue me a certificate stating that I had paid my taxes and 2) getting the Dept. of Education to respond to that certificate when I sent it in.

    If “your state taxes must be paid” is a condition of licensing teachers, shouldn’t it be a condition of licensing other professions?

    As a teacher, I am required to be fingerprinted every 3 years, and I have to pay the $50 cost of doing so. Given teachers’ access to children, I understand the motivation behind this, but question its efficacy; since I don’t see how matching fingerprints will be crucial to convicting teachers who molest children. As a matter of consistency, either both or neither of medallion and ride-sharing drivers should be fingerprinted, because their jobs are that similar. But how about lawyers and doctors, both of whom have access to the vulnerab le. Or, to bring it closer to home, state legislators, who collectively have had a significan t history of corruption?

    Similarly, the criteria and procedures for license revocation should be similar to identical for medallion drivers and ride-sharing drivers. For example, if bad driving can get you excluded from one, it should get you excluded from the other. That’s a matter of fairness, and also, we don’t want drivers banned from one type of driving to switch to the other. Ditto for ride-sharing companies and medallion owners. That’s not to say exactly what they should be, but they should be similar or identical. If, for example, one can be suspended for not paying its drivers fairly, so should the other.

    Here’s a more relevant example: The number of medallions is fixed, and thus the availability of medallion cabs, despite daily and seasonally fluctuating demand for cabs. So is the fare structure. In contrast, the supply and cost of ride-sharing vehicles are both a matter of market demand, as mediated by the ride-sharing companies. As a matter of equity, at the very least, ride-sharing companies should be obligated, as a condition of operation in an area, to provide certain minimum levels of cab availability within a municipality, and to increase what they pay drivers to assure that supply. Before you respond that that may run into a lack of willing customers, consider that ride-sharing companies can do this two ways. They can either raise the fares that they charge riders, or they can lower the cut that they take to make more income available to drivers.

    There is precedent for this. In regions of the country, Independent System Operators (ISOs) monitor electricity consumption and call up power suppliers to turn generators on or off in response to seasonal, daily, or hourly fluctuations in electricity demand. The ISO must supply the electrical power needed to match fluctuating demand. It selects from different power providers, each with their own price. ISOs rely on baseload generators for the cheapest power. Cold snaps or heat waves create surges in demand, for which ISOs buy some very expensive power, from generating capacity that is there for surges and thus is used only sporadically.

    Here are some more detailed recommendations:
    • Similar to identical regulations and state enforcement for medallion and ride-sharing drivers. Both should be subject to the same sanctions, be it loss of right to drive or otherwise, for poor driving, accidents, criminal behavior, non-payment of taxes, and whatever else the legislature deems appropriate. Fingerprinting for either both or none.
    • Similar to identical regulation for medallion and ride-sharing companies. Both should be subject to shutdown for failure to pay taxes and for failure to pay drivers fairly and on time.
    • Similar to identical requirements for the maintenance and cleanliness of vehicles, for types of payment accepted, and for other vehicle-related issues. In this case, responsibility applies to owners of medallion taxis and personal vehicles of ride-sharing drivers.
    • Regardless of whether it’s drivers or vehicle owners, similar requirements for insurance – on both vehicle and driver, for specific types of losses.

    This brings up another issue: Do you think that, in the long term, the medallion taxi is a viable business model? If you think it is, or that it should be, due to medallion owners’ substantial investment in the medallion, then you and your fellow legislators should endeavor to create as level a playing field as possible for both groups to compete. If you think that the medallion industry is going to go the way of the dodo (extinct), then you need to assure a fair way of phasing out this industry, and you also need to figure out a way to assure sufficient cab service to meet demand that does not leave it entirely up to the market.

    Hope that helps.

    Aram Hollman

  83. I feel for those who bought medallians. That being said i do not support the regulation of this great new efficient service. What I would recommend is a 5 year $.50 surcharge to Uber fares that is put into a pool to reimburse medallian holders to mitigate the loses from the new great technology. This could help them join the uber movement rather than fight it and get some of their investments back to be fair

  84. I think the state should stay out of it, at least for now. If something significant changes, then maybe there can be a reevaluation.

  85. My friend got a job at a day care. She was required to pass a CORI check. I think this should be mandated for Uber drivers.

    I also feel ride sharing services should be required to publish a phone number you can call in any emergency. When I talk to Uber drivers, they say there are no background checks and it’s hard for even them to get hold of a real person at Uber in an emergency.

  86. The state should define standards. These standards should be the minimum required to guarantee the safety of riders. The state should not over regulate these valuable and efficient services as they do for taxi services. I use both taxis and uber extensively. In my personal experience I have found Uber drivers generally drive more safely, navigate better, arrive soiner, offer additional services like water and phone charging and do so at a significantly lower price.

  87. I lean towards little or no state involvement. Uber has incentive and is being nudged by consumers to do a better job with background checks, etc., but it is an idea whose time has come. I’ve had only good experiences and if Taxi’s hadn’t let themselves get so overpriced, there might not have been a need for Uber.

  88. We should at least have the #2 version of security in your outline. i don’t take uber alone as i don’t feel comfortable with the fact that there are not real standards for the drivers.

  89. How do these proposals compare to the requirements for taxi drivers; e.g. fingerprinting. I think the background checks should be equal; either they all do it or no one does. If there’s any other vetting it should be of the owners of the services including the owners of the taxi fleets. I think we’ll find that the drivers are the losers in both.

    1. No Boston taxi driver was ever fingerprinted going back to the days when they had to carry shovels for the horse cack until last month, when it was introduced by the police as a PR stunt against Uber.

      What nobody wants to talk about is that the Hackney police is an open pustule of corruption. The Globe had a great expose on the board and the industry, back when it was a real newspaper. And people want to give more power to these corrupt little bureaucrats?

      1. Steven, I don’t think you know what you are talking about. You read one article. I have been a cabbie and there is a background check, and yes, Boston cabbies are fingerprinted.

        1. Well, Joe, you had better tell the police commissioner. He seems to be under the impression that police fingerprinting is a new thing.

  90. Hello Will,

    I’m a frequent user of cabs and Uber. You’ll also frequently find me on my bicycle, on the MBTA, in my car, on Amtrak, or flying to/from Logan. It’s fair to say I travel frequently and use a wide variety of transportation options wherever I go, both in Boston and around the world.

    From my perspective the new ride sharing services have provided a remarkable improvement in quality of service, access, efficiency, and choice in transportation. Overall, my experience with Uber has been far more positive vs cabs. Also, the choice and level of services available, from UberX to Black Car service means I can easily match transportation to the needs of the situation. Whether I just need a low cost ride to the train station or a black car to transport a client to a meeting, I now have options that simply were not previously available and certainly not as conveniently.

    In the discussion of what privileges, if any, taxi medallions should have over ride sharing services, there a real risk of prioritizing the interests of a few over the interests of the public. Medallion owners don’t deserve special treatment and should absolutely not have exclusivity or greater privilege for pick up and drop off at the airport, convention center, or elsewhere. To do otherwise would be a great disservice to the public and the broader business community.

    I think the state should tread lightly here.

    Let’s avoid creating regulatory burdens on innovation in the name of safety without clear, data-supported evidence of their necessity and efficacy. Fear of problems as yet unrealized is no basis for the invention of new regulation; nor are the demands of embedded interests who now find their formerly cozy industry disrupted by new entrants who are far more responsive to the needs of the market.


  91. Please regulate Uber to the same standards as taxi drivers. Based on reports of rape, Uber cannot regulate itself and has potential for something really bad to happen.

  92. Will, I agree with your take on ride-sharing companies like Uber. Just as Airbnb is not fundamentally the same as hotels, Uber is not the same as a taxi. The distinction in both cases, and in many “sharing economy” services, is that the service provider and consumer can screen each other and leave ratings, which leads to greater accountability and safety. An Uber driver is not someone random. They have a track record, and Uber has an incentive to screen its drivers. Safety is not as big an issue as people are making it out to be. I do not feel that the Commonwealth should be creating burdensome regulations and engaging in protecting the taxi cab industry simply because the old model is facing competition. There will probably always be demand for traditional cabs, but on a more limited scale. The two services should not be considered equal in terms of need for regulation.

  93. I vote for #1. The government is regulating the life out of business and it needs to stop. This business is working beautifully and should be left alone. The government is notoriously awful at running almost everything. Think about it.

  94. I rode in an Uber the other night whose driver told me three very interesting things:

    1) She drives for both Lyft and Uber, and the vetting and background-checking that Lyft does is much more stringent and robust than Uber’s.

    2) She personally knows at least one person driving for Uber who does not have a valid driver’s license.

    3) Most ride-sharing drivers do not inform their insurance companies that they are doing ride-sharing driving, even though it’s illegal not to. As a result, if they get into an accident while ride-sharing driving, the insurance company may declare their policy invalid and refuse to pay for the passenger’s injuries. Also, as per above, it’s not at all clear that the ride-sharing companies are requiring and verifying that their drivers have comprehensive insurance.

    Because of things like this, I don’t think the state needs to go as far as your #3, but I also don’t think #1 is going far enough.

    A related point… I’d like to hear your thoughts on the fact that Uber, Lyft, etc. classify their drivers like independent contractors rather than employees. I think that stinks to high heaven and is allowing the companies to skirt various employment laws.

  95. I don’t use Uber BECAUSE it’s not regulated. Say what you like about government, businesses don’t usually have the consumer’s back unless forced and this is no different.

    The trick is to have meaningful regulation that doesn’t become burdensome.

  96. Others making comments here have pointed out that we be careful when regulating to do proper background research first, and I agree. Having not done thorough research myself I only have the snippets of information I’ve stumbled across to guide me, but here’s my thinking:

    * I have heard about some disconcerning incidenents involving uber, and my suspicion is that an examination of their track record would suggest that they can’t be trusted to self-regulate. Johnathan Kamens’ 2nd point certainly corroborates this. This isn’t surprising to me; for-profits rarely can.

    * Whatever regulation we impose should be focused on issues that really call for regulation. Safety seems to be the biggest of these. We need to make sure we’re not adopting legislation that’s mostly a handout to cab companies.

    * We should tread carefully; taxi regulation has some problems, let’s try to learn from history:

    The thing to do is actually look at some data; how frequent are different kinds of incidents with various ride-sharing companies? How do they compare to cab companies? Are those numbers acceptable?

    My expectation is that something like #2 is what will end up making sense. #3 strikes me as probably inefficient, and unlikely to do much good. My suspicion is some regulation will be needed. Again, we should do the research first.

  97. My family and I are frequent users of Uber.
    I am not sure what uber does as their process for vetting drivers but I know they should be more transparent about that. I don’t think we are as safe with uber as we are when we get in a taxi.

    Here is my question: Uber is in the business of transportation. Isn’t transportation a regulated industry? if it is, how could uber be any different or exempt? I could be wrong.

    Will, I know this doesn’t relay to your questions but I also am becoming concerned about Uber’s pricing. As they capture more customers, they will capture the monopoly status and we’ve seen this with many other businesses.

    Here is my question: Uber is in the business of transportation. We have regulation on pricing of other transportation means; is Uber any different and/or exempt?
    Thank you!

  98. I favor the Commonwealth staying out of it relative to drivers and turf, but standardizing insurance.

  99. I’m in favor of option 1, with a one question. There seems to be some murky areas about liability protection for Uber drivers.

    If a passenger gets injured while riding in an Uber, they are supposedly insured by a blanket policy protection provided by Uber to all its drivers. But from what I gather, the Uber policy only kicks in after the drivers own policy reaches its maximum payout. Since Uber drivers are independent contractors and not Uber employees, Uber can’t be sued for liability.

    That sounds good and reasonable except that most drivers only have personal insurance, not commercial insurance and personal policies will not cover them while they are working i.e driving an Uber.

    It might be something that the state should look into if this is actually true.

  100. Some people have replied to me by email. Here are some representative anonymous excerpts:

    I would support option 1 or 2. I think the trick is getting a level of comfort with consumers that actually helps better/greater acceptance of the service and maybe sets some clear well known standards.

    I think The Uber and Lyft system of vetting and rating drivers has proved to be very successful self-regulation. Both have strong incentives to learn enough about their drivers so that they can be sure they will be good.
    They also get constant feedback from passengers who rate the drivers. They know far more about their drivers than any taxi company or taxi regulatory body can know.
    In general, my preference is to avoid regulation and the creation of new regulatory bodies whenever possible. In this case a new regulator seems superfluous.

    I vote #1, the state stays out of it. Agreed–I know more about my Uber trip and driver than I ever do about a cab I get into. And I’ve never felt unsafe in an Uber–either because of the driver or the state of the vehicle (whereas I have questioned the road-worthiness of cabs I’ve been in).

    In short, no! Uber service is so much better than the horrid taxis in Boston.

    Yes. It should. All business should have some sort of oversight. Drivers should have to take some form of test to assess their driving skills at the very least.

    Will this once again appears to be trying to solve a problem that does not exist.

    My sense is to have the state stay out of it. Lots of reason for that point of view.

    What makes the state qualified to assess the driver’s suitability ?

    What’s the state’s track record supervising and regulating businesses or agencies?

    To your point there will be an audit trail.

    Overhead costs have made taxis uncompetitive, why wreck this new business model?

    the state should have a CORI database which is tied to a fingerprint or some other identification.
    When a driver begins his workday – that driver should get an instant CORI check – same for regular taxi drivers.
    Beyond that – we don’t need or want another medallon tax regulation system.

    The Commonwealth should—and must—regulate Uber drivers in the same way it regulates taxi drivers—i.e. background checks, etc. As a passenger, I want to know that the person whose car I am getting into has been vetted by some authority. I would not risk my life in the hands of a company that is motivated only by profit.

    Personally I do not like Uber because if I understand correctly it is based on a premise of the smart phone. To me that means if you cannot own a smart phone you cannot use an Uber. There are many reasons for not having a smart phone. For some it is a money thing. It is too expensive. For others is just not for them. For still others it is not needed. Also I feel for the cab drives. Maybe I am too sentimental but I feel that many of them feel very hurt. That one group of people (Uber) seems to be special and they,the cab drivers have all the rules to follow.

    I am very much in favor of regulating the identification of Uber drivers in the sense of not leaving it up to the ride share companies to determine who is fit, etc.

    The anecdotal evidence e.g. “all my experiences have been positive” is just that. I have real trepidation getting into the cars of people I don’t know and whose activities are only being tracked by the companies themselves. Anything that increases safety for both riders (especially female ones, frankly) and drivers (years ago I had a friend whose father, a NYC taxi driver, was robbed and shot dead by a fare) is appropriately part of the business of public safety regulations.

    There is a profound difference between regulating safety/transparency and the regulation of the business (medallions vs. market forces, full time vs gig economy) which the state should probably stay out of although it is unfortunate that the taxi companies that played by the old rules are taking the brunt of it.

    Please do not regulate uber. Taxis are regulated and their services are below par.

    However, I see that there is a terribly unfair disparity between the regulations imposed on Taxis vs Uber. So something needs to be done to level the playing the field.

    Here are some examples.

    The obvious is that Uber can set whatever rates and change their rates any it wants.
    Whereas Taxis need to go before a licensing board in their municipalities. Second… the Commercial Insurance per cab, costs $5,000 per year or more…. Third: Cabs can’t refuse the fairs that Uber refuses. If someone walks up to the cab stand in Watertown Square and asks to for ride to a rough or dangerous neighborhood somewhere in Boston, that Cab can’t turn them down. Yet, Uber drivers can pick and choose.

    So yes, some regulation is needed… also as a matter of public safety.

    By the same token, we ought to be looking at some of the over regulation which is permitted in the Taxi Industry. For instance, non-Boston Taxis have to pay an additional fee to pick up passengers at Logan Airport. And of course they can only pick up, if they are called by their customers. They can’t just be flagged down. So some of those regulations should be looked at. Many of them are municipal. But they involve transportation across municipal lines, so the State has an interest in looking into them.

    Unlike hitch hiking, which has its own attendant difficulties, but is ultimately a voluntary phenomenon, these ride for money operations are commercial and there is a manifold public interest involved:

    1) Drivers must be vetted because they put themselves, their passengers, and other drivers at potential risk

    2) Their employers must be vetted on the grounds of potentially exploiting their drivers and not properly enforcing driver, vehicular, and passenger safety

    3) With the already wide spread evasion of updated inspections and registration renewals as any driver in the state can observe by seeing so many vehicles on the road with lapsed stickers, liability ought to attach to drivers of these quasi private livery services

    4) We need not duplicate the use and abuse of the hackney structure, but public safety is at issue.

    Hello again WB i am going to keep this very simple whats happening here is uber lyft and other apps have been using people with unmarked underinsured vehicles that look just like any other car at 10 o’clock at night.What i have been trying to drill this into everyone i talked to is it invites seed and deceit. Case in point the two unsuspecting females that got into two differant vehicles and guesse what they where assaulted assaulted in a way that it is going to stick with them for the rest of their lives.What should be done like all vehicles for hire have Livery plates and in some sort of marking to identify the riding public that they are legitimately in the business.The state must set the barometer so when any Tom Dick and Harry cannot trol! l the streets seduceing unsuspecting women for rides. When these the vehicles carry the right form of insurance it will create a more standard mode of operation.I am more inclined to believe that these two sexual assaults this past weekend we’re not uber or liyft or any form of app drivers at all but yet they where out trolling the streets.All the background checks we can do till we are blue in the face could not of stopped what had happened over the past weekend . I have no objection to any of these operations as i have told you before .But ride for hire must operate in a safe way to protect the riding puplic.Safety means vehicles are always working in a proper manner not just the safety between driver and Rider but the consistency of vehicles staying in good shape. When you flood the market it all looks Dandy right now but eventually it slowly slowly slowly gets deteriorated when you have twelve to fourte! en thousand private car in the business eventually something ! is going to happen. U will see that if everyone carry’s the right form of insurance it will be a little more uniform and keeps drivers in the business .Right now very little investment required.What i see is a revolving door because of little or no investment other than a vehicle a constant inexperienced Workforce comes into play .What i am saying is that the constant inexperienced driver trying to find his or her passenger with little or no knowledge of how the city is laid out women are left on the coner of a street or infront of a club making eye contact to every compact car that drives bye thinking it is her uber it invites the trolling for unsuspecting women .This sounds far fetched but tell that to a police officer he will agree it invites crime of opportunity. Please have the state require all Ride For Hire vehicles to carry Livery insurance and some sort of marking on the vehicle so when a police officer sees that this person is trying to pick people up for hi! re and do not have the markings they can be fined substantially believe me Senator it will make a more uniform way in transportation.In closing WB i hope that a young lady with a few drinks under her belt does not end up on the side of the road . Google bad situations in Uber probably half hour to finish all the stories think about that it’s pretty simple Senetor bring it under control thankyou

  101. Dear Mr. Brownsberger: The ueber firm not only represents “creative destruction” but also “destructive destruction”. Ueber rides are obviously cheaper but they threaten a well-established industry a union. Surely, uebr is the low-cost provider, because its drivers are not unionized. As a member of the Democratic Party, you should not support a union-busting employer. Most people who take cabs can afford them. They should share the burden instead of putting it all on the backs of low-wage mostly immigrant drivers, who are having a hard enough time in this terrible economy.

    1. The issue goes beyond unionization. Uber is the low cost provider because it pays little or no benefits and doesn’t shoulder the cost of employment taxes. Someone bears that burden, let’s not forget.

      1. I agree. Benefits for drivers, etc. are the result of collective bargaining. It is painful to watch the Democratic Party in Massachusetts, which represents the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, giving up so easily on this key Democratic value.

  102. I think it is great that they have made it more affordable and efficient for their customers.
    Competition is always good for the customer.
    In any case I would not go further than designing standards.

  103. I don’t think the state should regulate ride sharing in any way. The commercial incentives are sufficient to ensure that ride sharing companies control who gets behind the wheel. I feel that the confident in the security measures that Uber provides (tracking, providing photo & license plate before car arrives, etc). Ride sharing is certainly safer than taxis. This issue has been blown up by the media. The legislature has more important things to focus on.

  104. False security is the issue here. The media amplifies ride matching incidents and minimizes taxi related ones. Most of the problems from ride-matching services that I’ve heard of result from people getting into the wrong cars. This is an ID problem. As to driver vetting, how about requiring Uber etc. to include the verified credentials of the driver they’re sending? That would allow the rider to choose if they wish to take a chance or not and drivers can choose how many credentials they want to produce?)

  105. I agree,i don’t believe the state should get involved. They are doing a good job so far, with the security that they are providing. And we do need competition among companies,and to be affordable for consumers. So i will leave the state out of it.

  106. The Senator says:

    “Although I have real sympathy for individuals who have money tied up in taxi medallions, I will not support legislation that will hamper the transition to the superior new model.”

    Sounds like lip service to me. How does “I will not support legislation that will hamper the transition to the superior new model” translate into “real sympathy”?

    Is anyone interested in fairness? How is it fair that taxi owners are going to see the value of their medallions disappear? How is it fair that taxis and taxi-drivers must operate under heavy regulation while ride-sharing services operate under a near-libertarian model? Both “models” should be treated equitably, don’t you think? Regulate both or regulate neither. Whatever happened to the idea that govt should not pick winners and losers?

    As a culture, we seem to make a habit of stripping people of their livelihoods and then shrugging our shoulders — “dem da breaks”. In my view, it does not speak well of us.

    1. Hear! Hear! You make a good point Bill when you say that both industries should be regulated equally. This is an opportunity to reform the cab business. I feel for small owner op’s who have everything tied up in their medallion.

  107. I don’t believe the state should get involved – all of my experiences with ride sharing in Boston have been positive. I believe the media amplifies the small negative instances. We definitely need competition for transportation alternatives, and cabbies really aren’t cutting it.

  108. I strongly agree with your general approach. The state should regulate for safety purposes insofar as regulation would actually enhance safety. It should not, however, restrain this new competitive mode, which is already providing enormous benefits to consumers and will doubtless provide far more in the future as it evolves.

  109. The state should stay out of it. Let the market forces determine the outcome.

  110. I believe that Uber drivers should be fingerprinted and background checked just as are taxi drivers. This does not present a significant barrier to entry for anyone wishing to drive for such a service. While there is no such thing as perfect security and ironclad guarantees about who is behind the wheel in an Uber vehicle, there is no harm in taking reasonable precautions. No new beaurocracy is needed. Our local police and/or Sheriff’s Department should be authorized by the state legislature to fingerprint and run basic criminal database queries for a fee. Surely, they could use the revenue.

  111. I’m in favor of keeping the state out of the business. I subscribe to the notion that the company will do a decent job of checking drivers because publicity about bad drivers will be bad for the company.

  112. My biggest concern about Uber drivers is whether they are properly insured. My small unscientific poll indicates that the only insurance they carry specifically prohibits using their vehicles for hire.

  113. whatever is needed to ensure the safety of the uber user.also adequate liability insurance to protect the user.

  114. Will,
    I like the way you outlined the options. I think option 2 would be the best way to proceed, though option 3 is enticing we might leave this up to cities and towns that already have registration of cabs in place.

  115. Cab drivers are horrible, compared to them all uber drivers are angels. Why the focus on uber now when there have been abusive csb drivers for decades? Background checks should be mandatory for both, but the trackability of uber is a huge improvement over taxis.

    Stop demonizing uber. Fewer regulations the better. Taxis have always been horrible and continue to be, and it’s the State’s fault for it.

  116. The state exists to protect our interests, not just the interests of the new Uber-style business model. And Uber drivers also deserve fair labor protections as well. No way should the state “stay out” of this. I also question the statement that Uber passengers are “intrinsically safer than anyone just getting into a cab” until drivers are authenticated and vetted with background checks. And drivers.

  117. There is some need to regulate. Without a level playing field no one benefits in the long term. Imagine landing at logan and having to walk to your final destination because there is not Taxis and the uber drivers are elsewhere. Maybe the state could take over issuing medallions if say boston does not want to expand the taxi fleet to compete.

  118. Definitely!
    Just as taxi drivers are regulated, anyone who is taking people into their vehicle should be background checked thoroughly. The ride-sharing companies do not insure that protection. Taxi drivers also need to make a living. They go through a lot of scrutiny to get their medallions. Ride sharing drivers should also have to go through the same scrutiny, including knowing the best way to get somewhere. GPS systems have been known to be incorrect and to fail completely.

  119. Regarding ride sharing security, I believe the best thing would be for the state to simply stay out of it. The companies and their customers can adequately deal with this on their own, there is no need for state involvement.

    I do feel for the plight of taxi drivers with medallions, however the answer there is to decrease and remove many of the burdensome regulations on taxis, instead of adding those same items on everyone else. This would level the field.

  120. Standardize insurance but dont try to regulate uber. The govnt should stat out of it

  121. I think Uber and Lyft drivers should be required to have insurance that covers their passengers in case of an accident. It’s an appropriate business expense for anyone making money from the service. I agree with option 2, at least.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  122. Thank you for asking for my feedback on this subject. It is interesting that this topic should come up since I have never utilized a ride matching service because of concern for safety. I’m told the GPS system tracks the exact location of the vehicle utilized in the ride matching business.
    This however does not verify that the vehicle driver, the person in control of the vehicle, isn’t a violent criminal. It also doesn’t verify the driver has an active license to operate a motor vehicle. Finally, it doesn’t verify the vehicle in which a customer is a passenger can pass a motor vehicle safety inspection.
    Thus, I believe some regulation is needed as suggested in the second option you presented. All ride matching companies (not only Uber) need to require their drivers pass the same criminal and driving history checks as do taxi cab drivers. The vehicles owned by the drivers of drive matching companies also need to pass the same safety inspection as required by taxi cabs. Then, I will feel comfortable getting into a vehicle operated by an employee of a ride matching company.
    Personal auto insurance policies do NOT provide coverage when insured vehicles are used as livery vehicles or cab. I am uncertain whether insurance provided by ride matching companies for its drivers is at least comparable to that taxi companies have for their cabs.
    I believe it should be comparable for the good of the ride matching company employees and the customers. This could be an opportunity for businesses for that offer commercial insurance in MA.
    It is for the ride matching companies to decide whether it is in their interest to increase pricing because of the cost of new regulations. Following the same logic, it is up to the ride matching company drivers to determine if they will continue driving for a particular ride matching company or any ride matching companies for that matter.
    On the occasions where I really need to take a cab I have noticed most cab drivers have a smart phone. I cannot imagine that the taxi industry is unaware of this. Therefore, taxi companies can decide if it would serve them well to utilize more technology in their business.
    Lastly, I once saw a segment on the news about “surge pricing,” and I notice another individual commented on this practice. (According to my understanding, a ride matching company or companies decide it is “peak time” when cabs are in high demand. A customer is charged an inordinately higher price for a ride to take place during “peak time.” The cases mentioned in the news segment stated customers were charged well over $200.00 for a ride they booked on New Year’s Eve. If they needed to travel the same distance outside of “peak time” they would have been charged about $40!)
    I think the ride matching companies need to be required to very clearly indicate to customers in their mobile app software at the time of booking that “increased pricing” is in effect during the desired date and time and the precise price rate the customer will be charged for the ride if they should finalize the booking.
    Thank you again for seeking my feedback on this topic.

    ~ Donna Palombo
    Boston Ward 21 Dem Committee Member

  123. Great discussion! I was able to get through the first 1230 responses….

    In the aviation industry, private pilots can fly with modest regulation, but commercial pilots who charge money and “hold themselves out to the public” are much more seriously regulated. The analogs are private driving and driving for hire, and the latter ought to be regulated for safety.

    Fairness and operational differences between medallion driving and ride sharing are best left up to the market, but the safety of passengers, drivers, and the rest of the road using public should be of legislative concern. But let’s use a model that doesn’t penalize, for example, returning citizens. Of interest are: current and past driving record, drug use, personal character, etc.

    With respect to insurance, an encouragement to insurers to produce policies that protect all ride sharing parties is urgently needed. This is a liability nightmare waiting to happen.

  124. My instinct is to eshew as much as possible entangling/strangling bureaucratic machinery.

  125. I think Uber and taxi drivers should be held to the same standard and regulations as taxi drivers, both for safety reasons and also fairness.

  126. Hello

    Of the 3 I like model 2

    The state should be glad to have people putting themselves to work and providing verifiable tax revenue as they are able!

    other points to consider:
    1- Customer safety for those relegated to using Traditional Cabs:
    If one has no credit card they will be disenfranchised from getting timely and SAFE transportation and fall prey to riding exclusively with those drivers who can only qualify to work for a cab

    2-in SFO cabs can also get dispatches from Uber– if that could be the case in MA it increases lead opportunity, and profit for the medallion holders & leasers and the riders too

  127. My gut is for 1 or a light-touch version of 2.

    As for the unfairness for taxis, I haven’t heard yet (though I haven’t read this thread in full!) one possibility: what if we solve that by _lowering_ the standards that taxi companies have to comply with, rather than by increasing the standards that Uber has to comply with?

    If Uber has demonstrated that the industry was over-regulated (and I definitely feel it has), then maybe the solution is… less regulation?

    (And for the record, I’m not a Republican. 😉 )

  128. If cab drivers are screened then the same should apply to UBER. Safety should be a concern.

  129. Although market forces are frequently preferable, this is sort of an already regulated public accommodation (taxi’s are highly, even if stupidly, regulated).

    Comprehensive legislation (including re-regulating taxi’s) is appropriate. Uniform insurance, driver vetting, identification (decals or otherwise), and relaxed restrictions on areas of pick up — (including Logan, where Lyft/Uber are limousine-like).

    What to do about individuals (not multi-vehicle corporations) who got caught in the medallion melt down, I know not.

  130. Regulation of Uber should include monitoring of adequate insurance. Uber does not insure the drivers — only itself. If the driver is driving his personal car, there is a commercial use exclusion. Thus the car and driver may not be insured should a passenger or pedestrian be injured or if the driver hits another vehicle.

    I would suggest a requirement that Uber insure its drivers and vehicle used for Uber to at least the minimum required for a cab, but that minimum is woefully inadequate: only $20,000.

    Proper regulation would require that all vehicles used as public carriers, whether by Uber, Lyft or by traditional taxis, be required to carry a minimum of $100,000 insurance.

  131. Considering how notoriously BAD Boston cab drivers are, it looks like state already has a fine example of failing to achieve the desired outcome by regulations. Most will agree that current Taxi regulation does nothing to improve the safety, but only to protect medallion holders.
    As for Uber, all in all it proved to be BETTER than cab in terms of safety, convenience and price.
    The only regulation I would suggest is proper insurance. Everything else is just a backdoor favor to medallion sharks (who totally brought it on themselves).

  132. I mostly comfortable with leaving it alone. However, I do understand the desire for more complete background checks. It may not stop someone from being assaulted but may be a deterrent for someone looking for a cover.

  133. I would say even as a state worker, and working in a world of beaurocracy, that it would be nice to have one system exist that isn’t regulated. I don’t ride Uber but I know many people that do…it actually sounds safer than riding a taxi as far as overall driving skills and friendliness is concerned, and is much more affordable. So my vote is a “no” on this question…..

  134. The state should define strict standards and fingerprint every driver in addition to background checks

    1. I believe that the State should take a free market approach and stay out of regulating this. Perhaps a public awareness campaign in the way of having Drivers post visible stickers/signs that remind and encourage Riders/Passengers to use the GPS “text destination” feature within the app. I told me wife that every time she user Uber, to say out loud (informing the driver) that she is texting her ride information with her husband and father-in-law. By informing the driver of this it only heightens the awareness of ride safety, and deters incidents.

      However, if passengers do not feel safe using ride share programs for this reason, they do not have to use them! No one is forcing people to use these services. If someone feels uncomfortable they they should use a taxi or public transportation, etc.

      Imposing regulations in not a valuable use of the States money, and will only hinder the service providers from operating. We ever happened to capitalism? Can we not allow the market to determine what a Service Provider needs to have in order to provide a viable business. To one of the points above, the Providers are incentivized not to allow “bad drivers” from operating. Should (god forbid) there be a spike in incidents, the market will stay away from such services, and the Service Provider will be forced to change.

      Imposing regulation due to the perception of a public safety concern only impairs the Service for those who rely on it already. If I have the means, and I feel comfortable using a Service, then please don’t impose regulations restricting its use. If the taxi operators want a “level playing field” tell them to improve the quality of THEIR service!! Have you been in a Boston cab recently? The driver is often scary to ride with, the cab is filthy and uncomfortable… their service is terrible. Rather than trying to waste legislator’s time debating this stuff, if I was a Medallion owner, I would better train my drivers, overhaul my fleet, develop an app to help people more easily book taxis. etc… become more competitive to provide a better service. By regulating ride-sharing programs we are succumbing to a monopoly who provides a mediocre service and is too lazy to try an improve.

      PLEASE do not impose regulations on ride sharing services that would limit the people’s ability to use such services.
      Thank you.

  135. For the most part the state needs to stay out of. The market has spoken and riders by the thousands find Uber to be safer, more reliable and overall a better service than taxi cabs. Forcing unnecessary regulation is wasteful, and only benefits the crony cab companies who will not update the quality of their service and instead wish to legislate their competition away.

    The state could define standards as to the vetting that ride-sharing companies should do and inspect their records periodically, but there’s a better plan. Obviously, we have seen a few isolated incidents of drivers who acted maliciously especially towards young women. Instead of making companies meet a certain state specified criteria, which many already do, the state should publish a ranking of how extensive the background check for each service is and let consumers make their choice that way if it is a concern. If a company sees that their sales fall because of this then they will expand their background check.

    The biggest issue is riders getting into cars that they think are their Ubers. My university and Uber already send out reminders that you should always confirm the drivers name and license plate before entering. If the state wants to eliminate crime around ride sharing then they should issue a similar PSA that helps to educate passengers.

    Legislation is not the answer this time, common sense and the free market is.

  136. One other thing.

    I was at the airport this weekend. I pulled up my Uber app and checked out the pricing Sunday night. They said $68-$85. I went out to the Taxi stand and took a cab. In this case more convenient. I say, leave Uber alone. Let the market decide and public decide what they want. If anything, loosen regulations on cabs and let the cab companies opt in on Uber.

  137. No bureaucracy or regulations should be imposed by the state on companies like Uber. We operate in a free market. If Uber becomes unsafe (by their own carelessness/lack of checks in choosing drivers) then consumers will choose not to use Uber.

    I feel no less safe in an Uber than in a taxi or on a bus and no state imposed regulations will change that.

  138. Dear Senator Brownsberger,

    Thank you for making us aware of this new proposed legislation and for your perspective on Uber.

    In terms of the proposed legislation for the state to certify Uber drivers for safety purposes, I see no purpose. The violence in cases of Uber drivers attacking their customer/passengers appear to be random and infrequent occurrences, just as taxi drivers can be the victims of their passengers (as happened this week).

    What I feel is most important is that while Uber may be more cost effective than some taxis, the business model is not a superior one at all. I heard a Silicon Valley internet entrepreneur with this perspective: The Uber business owners reap the profits while the drivers are paid per hour, so a few people at the top are making a good income. Taxi drivers own their own business and can make a living. Now they are being put out of business. It actually creates MORE economic disparity! Fewer people actually make a living wage.

    My friend has her own transport business and makes a living – that is a model I can support.

    Thank you for all you do.

    What I feel is most important is Uber

  139. I feel that the state should not impose new regulations. The ride-sharing market is developing well on its own and I do not think the State will have a beneficial effect.

  140. I believe it’s safer than cabs. My wife and I have discussed and have agreed that she shouldn’t use uber alone, which is an individual’s choice. Hailing someone unknown has inherent risk and agree that the tracking that is currently in place is sufficient. No model is perfect, and can and should be adjusted as the environment changes.

  141. If the ride share industry is behind this, who are you arguing against ? See quotes:

    Meghan Joyce, Uber East Coast general manager, said Uber supports the bill. “This bill would set into law for the entire industry many of the safety standards that have attracted riders and drivers to ride-sharing, including $1 million of insurance on every ride and rigorous, mandatory background checks for all drivers,” Joyce said in a statement.

    Uber spokesman Matthew Wing said Uber already conducts mandatory background checks of its drivers and provides $1 million in insurance. He said the company supports the bill because it would extend those standards across the industry. It would also create a regulatory framework that would allow Uber to expand statewide as part of the state’s transportation industry.

    Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said Lyft also supports the efforts. “Governor Baker has created an inclusive process that we hope will lead to the continued success of Lyft in Massachusetts,” Wilson said in an email. “The people of the Commonwealth have demonstrated their support for ridesharing and we look forward to working with legislators to finalize a bill that maintains this consumer option.”

  142. Please – we require to many bits of info already. We cannot keep them safe. We should requie registration.

  143. yes, the state and a city like Boston that has Cabs should regulate ride shares. Mayor Walsh wants that requirement. I want to get into a car knowing that the driver is known and vetted. Licenses, safe driving records, addresses, real names. I think fingerprints are a good thing, since we get in cabs to leave home and to return there when others might not be there. I want whatever assurances there can be. Most of us don’t have people who can follow our GPS on every cab ride. What has been fair for our cabbies, should work for the ride-share drivers.

  144. I am a woman who frequently takes Uber all over the city and have found it to be a safe and reasonable alternative to taxis. I don’t believe that State regulation would significantly enhance the safety or effectiveness of these services and therefore I recommend going with Option 1.

  145. As someone who’s been sexually harassed by uber drivers many times and believe it’s 100% necessary to do background checks for this reason.

    Model #2 looks like it makes the most sense to me.

  146. Senator Brownsberger – I believe the state should stay out of ride sharing program’s business. The whole model of ride sharing allows it to remain competitive. There will always be bad apples in any business, regardless of service and any reputable business or company will address it swiftly and appropriately. Uber and other ride sharing programs have too much on the line to make bad business decisions.

    It works, it isn’t broken. Don’t touch it (please).

  147. Ride-share drivers should have the same requirements as taxi drivers – why not? There have already been enough reports of problems with Uber drivers. The burden of responsibility should not rest on the passenger or on someone “tracking” the ride. Insurance should be standardized and be the same as for taxis. And HP/wheelchair accessible vehicles must be included in any fleet.

  148. Why are we not playing with the same rules?, as an owner of single TAXI Medallion, I believe in a system, that built on Rules and Regulations. Overnight you have chosen to change the rules of the game. There are 100’s of cabbie family and small business owners, stuck with mortgages and cannot afford to pay Insurance and mortgages. We are paying from our life savings and from our education funds for our kids. I do not want people to feel bad for cabbies and small business owners, but rather I want the system to be fair, and we all have to play with the same rules. You cannot possibly work your way and bribe corrupted politicians, and destroy the livelihood of many families, simple because Uber and other companies, are so powerful, and they know how to manipulate the political system. You have created a segment of our population, that no longer trust the system, and you have done it in a very vicious way. We all embrace new technology, but it does not have to build on the suffering and affliction of other people and families that have no loud voice. Uber should be regulated, hence if the Cabbies pays for Commercial insurance, then the Uber drivers should do the same.

  149. Option #1 or Option #2 – don’t create a heavy bureaucracy, and create light-touch regulation that balances the public need for a minimum standard while allowing for innovation. The cab industry got itself into this spot by creating a false monopoly through over-burdening regulation without quality. Let the public vote with their business while setting a minimum

  150. Uber should be regulated similar to other transport providers, including the same requirements for its employees (they ARE NOT independent contractors, but unfortunately the courts have not caught up on this yet). Uber should be required to provide and pay for all credentialing requirements for its drivers, which should be similar to those required of other pertinent transportation sector employees.

    I suppose this is option #3, but even stronger. I am tired of Uber and other ride sharing services exploiting labor and undercutting worker solidarity.

  151. A few observations.
    1. The taxi trips I’ve taken with local companies in Belmont and Watertown have been OK but the vehicles haven’t been particularly nice or clean. The drivers have been OK but nothing more.
    2. If the local companies are regulated, I’m not sure that regulation has made the taxis cleaner, safer, or given me more confidence in the drivers.
    3. The local regulation, if any, has not made the taxis competitive fare wise. A local taxi company trip to the airport recently cost twice as much as a similar Uber ride.
    4. My limited experience with Uber is that the vehicles are newer, cleaner and I know the identity of the driver.
    5. I am not a small government person but I question the effectiveness of certain regulation. It is not apparent to me that either in Boston or the Belmont/Watertown area that regulation has significantly improved taxi service.

  152. Short answer: 1 is fine, a couple components of 2 might be fine 2.

    Long answer: As a selectman, I’ve rewritten our taxi regulations once already, and I feel hidebound by state regulations. I think this is a classic case of regulatory capture. It’s an industry that has, intentionally or not, turned the regulating agencies into a defensive moat that protects them from most challengers.

    Then comes along Uber and Lyft and others – a classic disruption example. The disruption is particularly dramatic because the status quo was so static. It’s like the earthquake analogy – lots of little earthquakes, or one big one? The regulatory structure has locked everything in so long, there has been no release of pressure.

    The mistake we must not make is to put these disruptors in the same straitjacket as the incumbents. This disruption is good for the customer. “I wish I had a regular taxi” is not something that Uber users say.

    The disruption is not good for the traditional taxi industry, but they shouldn’t be driving the debate. They should be participants, like everyone else. They need to meet the need (credit cards without complaint, ease of calling, transparency on arrival, customer feedback loop on driver, etc.) or suffer the consequences of providing an inferior product.

  153. It’s not ride sharing despite the winks and the nods. It’s commerce as broadly defined – the drivers are receiving benefit for performing a service. Therefore, to ensure the safe, responsible transmission of this service, I believe the state has not only a right but an obligation.

    To me that means:
    -Online registering of drivers. Some public recourse, if only to keep the companies honest. Saves undue bureaucracy.
    -Conspicuous decals
    -Extra safety inspection

    Let’s take this into the light and call it the legitimate business that it is.

    -NO turfs or medallions

    Per Will’s point, many enjoy this service, and the remote pay helps parents (so that older kids don’t get taken for a ride or have to carry cash), plus the obvious effects on competition.

    So I think it’s had a positive effect overall; I think a *light* government touch can help ensure safety without unduly burdening the companies.

  154. The taxi driver is right: all players should be bound by the same rules. De-regulate the taxis. Keep hands off Uber, Lyft, Fasten, Bridj, etc., and let the market (that is the customer population) decide.

  155. To Whom It May Concern:

    My name is George Akkeh and I own a taxi medallion in the city Cambridge. I have been driving my taxi in Cambridge for the past 25 years, and this business has supported my family of five. I made the decision to refinance in order to pay for my daughters’ college education, but the medallion has unfortunately lost its value due to companies such as Uber and Lyft. Business has decreased significantly, making it extremely difficult to pay the mortgage every month for the taxi, and many medallion owners have already lost their assets.

    I have several other concerns pertaining to Uber and Lyft. First, there are a limited number of taxis in each city, whereas there is no limit for services like Uber and Lyft. Second, our insurance costs are very high, whereas Uber and Lyft drivers do not have to pay the same prices. Third, our criminal record is checked every time we renew our license, whereas Uber and Lyft drivers do not have a process like this.

    Thank you for your time,

    I have a family of five,a wife and three children and own a Taxi medallion in Cambridge.
    Refinanced to pay for my children’s college education,
    Because of Uber and lifts the medallion has no value and business is down,it’s very difficult to pay the mortgage at the end of each month and many medallion owners already lost their assets due to loss of business,
    -There are limited number of taxis in each city,there are no limit to services like Uber.
    -we pay high Insurence they don’t.
    -Our criminal record checked every time we Renew our license they don’t have such a thing and they don’t even have any license.
    -of course no matter how we check we will never know who is behind the wheels


  156. I think required background checks for every driver maybe once every three months is a really good idea. If Uber has too many restrictions then us the citizens lose. Taxi service to me is very poor and always has been from the drivers to the cleanliness. However the bigger issue I understand is customor safety, The incidents that have occured are scary and awful. Maybe there is a way to have a special license plate..maybe a different bright color so people know for sure it is truly an Uber car. People that are out late drinking and what have you may not be thinking to identify the license plate numbers espcially when the cars are just regular cars a color may help, either way something more apparent needs to be on the cars that verify they are truly Uber drivers. Another thing Uber could do with their app is make more information about the driver available within legal guidelines of course. Also they could update their app to give people an option to let family members know they are in an uber via a n automated text.

  157. Thanks for the update and the well-reasoned analysis. I’ve posted before on this topic, so I won’t go into detail again. I concur with your “probablies” and especially that the Commonwealth should stay out of the vetting process.

    Same goes for setting ride standards–the rating function already ensures that the vast majority of cars are in much better shape than virtually any taxi. And when was the last time a taxi driver offered you a bottle of water and asked which radio station you’d like to hear? You mentioned some good ideas in this regard, but didn’t say specifically what you think might be good. I’d be skeptical. Even the decal idea seems more like putting a target on the car than an actual benefit to riders, especially if it has to be permanently affixed.

  158. 1) I have assumed that most Uber/Lyft drivers want to be considered employees and have normal benefits. I use Uber between 3-20 times wekly as I travel (or return home) and universally, drivers see their work as part time confering freedom, and despite their own self interest (in my opinion) none wants to be told what tpo do by Uber/Lyft or have any threshold on what would enable benefits.
    2) It seems that 10% of drivers are women, and with taxi’s I don’t recall when I have seen a woman driving in an urban areas. So these ride sharing services have made it possible for women to make a living behind the wheel.
    3) I see no need for any state regulation as the companies have a high interest in security and reputation. When I get in an Uber, I know the name, license plate, photo of the driver. And they know me. Dozens of reviews are available for the drivers and for me.
    4) No cash is on hand in the cab making it safer and easier for me and the driver.
    These ride sharing services seem like an example the only need for regulation comes from taxi medallion owners, and that’s a lousy reason to waste time on an issue that has not proved a problem yet.

    Thanks for listening.

  159. Many of the comments I’ve read here seem to support a hands-off position. I disagree. I feel that there should be some regulation (Option 2?). For me, it’s definitely a security concern.

  160. The safety / regulation issue is one I waffle over. Uber and Lyft don’t always vet drivers thoroughly, some I think some regulation is needed to check driving and police records — not every few months but once a year or every two years, like the MDV. BUT, the thought of YET ANOTHER governmental monitoring agency we would have to fund makes me groan. and I worry if their usual initial diligence and scrupulousness will degenerate (into what I won’t say).

    As for medallion taxi drivers losing their livelihood… hate to sound callous, but we have to allow for evolution and improvement in services.

  161. I think for now the state should keep out of it. This market is still evolving and perhaps in a few years it will make sense to regulate it, but jumping in right now could smother a new industry before it has a chance to get started. Uber and Lyft are HUGE improvements on the Boston cabs they are replacing.

  162. I worry about security for myself (an older person) and at this point, will not use Uber or similar. Don’t know the answer to the problem.

  163. 1. Why All TNC drivers are fingerprinted in NY City and not in Boston? Is the safety in Boston is less important?
    The TNC is claiming that fingerprinting is not allowing them to operate free so they can hire whoever they want – this is completely wrong.
    Personally I would never allow TNC to take my children or my relatives anywhere as they are not safe!!!!
    How many lawsuits UBER has today including sexual assaults, burglaries and ets.????? WHY do they have them?????
    2. Based on all recent litigation the TNC are operating illegally from the aspect of labor law (their drivers should be employees)It is only the question of time before TNC will be forced to make all their “independent” contractor into employees. The later will completely change their business model similar to what happened to FEDEX and other violators of Labor Law.
    4. The proper commercial insurance and clear identification for all TNC should be regulated and enforced. Otherwise the entire insurance for buses, shuttles and any other types of transportation should be completely revised. If the decision is made by legislature to revise the insurance then it has to be first revised, it has to become a new law and then all transportation will operate according to new laws. Allowing the “bullies” (TNC) to do it like they don’t need it is not correct.
    3. Would YOU support paying taxi medallion owners compensation or at least to pay them back money that WERE COLLECTED THROUGH MEDALLION AUCTION FROM TAXI OWNERS TO BUILD A NEW CONVENTION CENTER in Boston? That auction was a a clear misrepresentation by city and state. Do you think the city of Boston or State of MASS would be able to sell anything to public???? They lost trust and my vote for sure.
    4. The TNC are operating without any regulations like GYPCY Cabs. The reason they are so popular is because they don’t have to pay the same fees as taxi cabs, limos, shuttles and so they can undercut the prices. You should also pay attention to the federal case that will force city and state to regulate in a fair way or otherwise the judge will regulate this business. This would be a great news for state and city government officials if federal judge will have to do the job for local politicians.

  164. I think option 2 is the best option, given criminal issues with uber drivers in the recent past. So far the industry has not shown they have an abiding interest in rigorous criminal background checks and I think the state has to step in and mandate fingerprinting and CORI/SORI checks.

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