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City Council Wants More Regulations for Uber and Lyft

The City Council wants more regulations for ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

The council held a hearing earlier this week and believes these companies are part of the reason Boston’s traffic keeps getting worse.

“It’s just getting worse and worse and worse,” said City Councilor Michelle Wu.

According to city officials, there were 115,000 trips a day made in the city in 2018 and the number will rise this year. A study shows that 42 percent of Uber or Lyft riders would use public transportation if they couldn’t use the ride sharing apps.

“It doesn’t seem like TNCs (transportation network companies) are being a good neighbor,” said City Councilor Ed Flynn.

Uber and Lyft were invited to the hearing, however, decided not to attend. “I’m not very happy with them,” said Flynn.

According to City Councilor Matt O’Malley, TNCs make up about eight percent of Boston’s traffic. “That’s a real impact,” he said. “Traffic in Boston is at a critical level.”

O’Malley supports and uses Uber and Lyft, but believes regulations could be put in place to help the city.

There is currently a 20 cent tax on all Uber and Lyft rides. Some councilors believe the tax should be higher.

“I’d like to have a frank discussion about how could we monetize this,” City Councilor Frank Baker said. “How do we tax this industry more?”

Baker is also worried about the impact TNCs have had on the taxi industry.

“How do we help the taxi industry,” he asked. “I don’t think we should be trying to give a leg up to their competitors. We know these people are from our neighborhoods. We don’t know who the Uber driver are always.”

Other councilors want more pick up and drop off designated areas in the city.

City Councilor Michael Flaherty wants to crackdown on drivers who are double parking and driving recklessly in the city. “I just don’t think there’s much enforcement going on in respect to that,” Flaherty said.

The state would need to change the laws surrounding TNCs for anything to change. Flynn believes TNCs are here to stay in Boston and wants to work with them to make it a better situation for everyone.

“They have become a part of the overall transportation network,” said Flynn.

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11 Replies to “City Council Wants More Regulations for Uber and Lyft

  1. Of course the government wants more regulations and more taxes….

    Side note: how much are cab rides down? Bet it evens out…

    1. The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team released their findings on congestion this week. Today’s article answers your question.

      In 2012, cabs had 14.6M trips in Boston (pre-Uber and Lyft).
      Last year, cabs had 4.8M trips and Uber/Lyft had 42M trips. That’s 32.2M MORE trips in Boston.

      The per ride fee goes towards funding better transit, sidewalks, bike infrastructure, etc. MA’s fee is low compared to other cities. New York charges $2.75, DC charges 6% of the fare, and Portland, OR charges 50 cents.

      Full article: https://apps.bostonglobe.com/metro/investigations/spotlight/2019/11/21/seeing-red/convenience-culture-makes-traffic-worse/

  2. “How do we help the taxi industry,” he asked. “I don’t think we should be trying to give a leg up to their competitors. We know these people are from our neighborhoods. We don’t know who the Uber driver are always.”

    Does any local politician consider why so many people use Uber/Lyft over Taxis? For one it is exponentially safer (can track driver information and routes), have transparent costs that are much more reasonable, and just overall a better experience. Try getting in a taxi at Logan and say you’re going to the North End, they visibly get mad because you’re not going far enough. Maybe Frank Baker is friends with all the cab drivers, but I find that the majority of time they are the exact opposite of nice and friendly people.

    In what world does someone think taking a taxi is better than Uber/Lyft? This is 2019, get with the times Boston…. Final note, maybe if the T actually worked more people would use it.

    1. Baker like all politicians like to pick winners and losers. It’s called power brokering.. It helps him attract funds. But based on Jared’s note, Boston can collect more so we can keep up with the Joneses. Of course one thing a politician thinks about, is how can I get more taxes.

  3. The audio idea might be a good idea in a legal way, make it really safer. Espically for late night rides, and for ladies.

  4. I don’t think anyone thinks taxis are better than Uber or Lyft. But to be fair there have been woman who have been sexually attacked by Uber drivers Nationwide.

    1. Women have been assaulted by cab drivers here in Boston. The industry background checks aren’t the best.

    2. “But to be fair there have been woman who have been sexually attacked by Uber drivers Nationwide.”

      According to CNN, Uber had over 100 sexual assaults committed against passengers by drivers between 2014-2017. It also provided over SIX HUNDRED MILLION RIDES during that same time period (and only in the U.S.). Even after accounting for the reality that sexual assaults are vastly underreported, it doesn’t change the fact that the odds of being assaulted during a rideshare trip are closer to one in a million than the “high likelihood” being incorrectly inferred by too many in the media (who routinely refuse to provide the context of just how many total trips are involved).

  5. “How do we help the taxi industry? I don’t think we should be trying to give a leg up to their competitors. We know these people are from our neighborhoods. We don’t know who the Uber driver are always.”

    1. The city council SHOULD have broached this topic back in 2013 when Uber & Lyft first entered the city – namely by figuring out a way to bail out its cabbies stuck holding onto ridiculously high-priced taxi medallions that entered a pricing bubble long before Uber came down the pike. While Boston cabbies weren’t as ruined as those in NYC, they were preyed upon by unscrupulous secondary-market medallion sellers and lenders (who pulled the same kinds of financing BS that imploded the housing market in 2007-2008, e.g. interest-only loans for the first five years of a 30- or 40-year note). This happened on the CITY’S watch, despite them trying to blame Uber for it all.

    2. “We don’t know the Uber drivers”? Seriously? They’re required to undergo the same type of verification process as cabbies! Many of them *were* cabbies! (and nearly all are local residents)

    3. As is the case in most cities, the “taxi industry” is largely controlled by groups of exceedingly wealthy “corporate” medallion owners who’ve bribed … er, contributed generously to city council campaigns for decades to keep the status quo in place (namely issuing pathetically few new taxi medallions solely to protect their financiers’ golden geese). Councilors shouldn’t be “helping” people who’ve financed their own campaigns for years; they should be helping DRIVERS first impacted by the city’s own failure to regulate the secondary medallion market, and then by its failure to sufficiently regulate ridesharing services. (Not that taxis merited protectionism per se: that would’ve been as silly as “protecting” horse-drawn-carriage cabs when motorized taxis first debuted a century ago.)

    1. Also, the cabs in Boston were voted the stinkiest in the nation a few years back. They could go along way to help,themselves. I have been in plenty of smelly cabs with litter on the floor. I can say the situation has improved. Aside from the very bad publicity and reputational damage, you might give credit to the rideshares that would have no traction if the cab industry considered customer satisfaction in the first place.

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