Madison alder weighs regulations on rideshare companies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison alder weighs regulations on rideshare companies

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber have been a hot topic of discussion for the Madison Common Council this year.

The companies use smart phone applications to match people seeking rides with drivers, using their own, personal cars, who can transport them. The drivers are then paid a fee using the smart phone app.

The city has not yet come up with a set of regulations for Lyft and Uber to operate under.

The Mayor has said the rideshare companies should be required to abide by existing, taxi ordinances. Green Cab of Madison is among the cab companies that concur.

"We just want the competition to be fair," said Phil Anderson, the company's general manager. "It's only fair that they should operate under the same ordinances, whatever those ordinances are."

Anderson pointed out that his company's drivers are required to operate 24-hours each day and cannot refuse service to those seeking a cab ride. He said rideshare companies do not require their drivers to follow either one of those rules.

Anderson also said there are questions regarding how much insurance coverage rideshare companies provide drivers and whether their drivers are provided with worker's comp in the event of accidents. He also pointed out that Green Cab also uses a mobile app, crafted by a software company it owns, to take cab calls.

Anderson said Green Cab has not seen a dip in the roughly 1,500 calls per day it sees since the emergence of Lyft and Uber.

Alder Scott Resnick said any Lyft or Uber drivers currently operating in Madison in exchange for pay are technically in violation of the city's taxi ordinances and thus can be cited by police.

Lyft drivers are still operating in the city. A spokesperson for Uber declined to answer if its drivers are still in operation.

A spokesperson for the Madison police department said Tuesday that no tickets have yet been issued to Uber or Lyft drivers.

Resnick said he's working on a regulatory proposal for rideshare companies he plans to introduce before the end of April.

Among the likely inclusions in that proposed ordinance would be background checks for rideshare drivers and vehicle inspections for Uber and Lyft cars.

Resnick said the ordinance could also include a mandate that rideshare vehicles obtain official, identification decals that need to be displayed on their windows. He said a requirement that rideshare companies operate 24-hours each day will certainly be discussed but did not guarantee it will be included in the final proposal.

"Citizens expect a certain amount of safety any time they get into a vehicle," Resnick said.

"For any company that's trying to do something new, we should at least give that company the benefit of the doubt," Resnick said. "If we can't find a safe way to do it, then it doesn't work for Madison."

Resnick said the proposal will likely take "months" to come before the council for a final vote. He said he doesn't know if it will attract enough votes to pass the council.

In statements issued Tuesday both Lyft and Uber declined to comment on Resnick's proposal until it is officially introduced.

"The proposed ordinance has not yet been introduced so we can't comment on its specifics," said Paige Thelen, of Lyft Communications. "That said, we are committed to working with Alder Resnick and his colleagues to address the public's desire for viable, transportation alternatives and allowing ridesharing to thrive throughout Madison."

"The launch of uberX in Madison has generated an overwhelming response from both riders and drivers," said Nick Anderson, General Manager of Uber Madison.

"We are supportive of regulations that protect consumer choice and drive economic opportunity for our partners," Anderson said. "Alder Resnick's proposal has yet to be released, however, we look forward to working with the city to develop regulations reflecting a modernized transportation system in Madison."

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