Madison city leaders concerned about new rideshare companies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

City leaders concerned about new rideshare companies coming to Madison

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MADISON (WKOW)-- The newest trend in transportation has now found its way to Madison. Ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft use smart phone apps to connect customers with drivers who use personal cars to pick them up. Both companies have operated in several cities across the country, but are now running into criticism from city officials in Madison.

There were lots of questions at Wednesday night's Transit and Parking Commission meeting as city leaders discussed how to regulate this new transportation service. Right now both companies are operating in the city without following several regulations traditional taxi companies are forced to follow.

These regulations include:

-Taxi companies must provide their service 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

-Companies are not allowed to refuse service to anyone.

-Companies are not allowed to discriminate against any sector of the city.

-Rates must be posted on the side of the vehicle and can only be changed every six months.

-Drivers must be insured at least $1,000,000 for liability and damages.

-Each driver must undergo a background check and driving records check.

Lyft and Uber drivers acknowledged that they are not following some of these regulations. They say city leaders should amend the taxi ordinance to accommodate their new business model.

"We may not fit within that particularly, but we are not saying that we do not want to work within the city and to work with you guys to make this another option for our consumers and our community," Lyft driver Laura Alvarez says.

A public comment period carried on for nearly two hours at the meeting with people voicing several opinions on Uber and Lyft coming to town. Taxi cab companies showed up in full force. They're mainly concerned that the two new companies are operating with an unfair advantage because they're getting away with not following several city regulations.

"They tell people that they're not taxi companies and therefore should not be bound by the same rules of the cab industry, but as I understand their business model, they contract drivers to pick up customers on demand and transport them around the city for a fee. My question is, how is that not a taxi cab service?" Union Cab board member Jason Glomp says.

The Madison City Attorneys Office says neither company has registered with the city. They say neither have made any attempt to contact them at all before moving into Madison. Taxi drivers say city leaders should act quickly before these companies set a precedent for others to come in and not follow the rules.

"Take strong action against these entities, these illegal app services both now and on an ongoing basis. Arrest some of their drivers. Don't just give them a ticket," cab driver Jim Wold says.

The meeting ended without a final decision being made. The Transit and Parking Commission decided to create a sub-committee to further analyze the issue of rideshare companies coming to Madison. At the end of the meeting committee members issued a strong warning to drivers that they could be fined and penalized if they continue to drive in the city. A Madison Police Department representative at the meeting said officers are aware of the situation and will start handing out tickets.

 

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