More Meetings About Uber’s Operations to Be Held in Cambridge

Until then, it’s ‘business as usual.’

Image via uber on Facebook

Image via uber on Facebook

The battle over Uber’s business operations is taking a back seat as Cambridge officials craft a new set of proposed regulations, and prepare for additional public hearings on the matter.

Andrea Jackson, chairwoman of the city’s License Commission, said the department’s executive director would do a “complete rewrite” of a proposal floated by the city earlier this month that set off a heated debate between fans of Uber’s on-demand car services, and drivers from the taxi industry that are under strict guidelines regulated by lawmakers.

“We are going to be looking to see what other states and cities have done [with services like Uber], and it will essentially be a complete rewrite of the earlier draft,” said Jackson. “The first draft was essentially just that. It was, ‘hey, let’s have a discussion about it, what do you think.’”

People that support and frequently use Uber and other apps that buck the taxi trend weren’t shy when expressing their feelings about the first proposed draft that came out just weeks ago. At a hearing on June 17, dozens of people crammed into a meeting hall in Cambridge and decried the city’s attempt at putting forth a document that, if passed, would have curbed the app-based company’s operations by making them adhere to the same rules and regulations as the taxicab industry.

After the intense public input and subsequent social media outrage, Jackson said a new proposal would be put together, this time taking into account the immense support that services like Uber have in Cambridge and beyond.

“The executive director will take a stab at doing another draft, and she will send it to the board asking for comment,” said Jackson.

That draft, once complete, will be followed by a series of public hearings possibly in the fall. Residents will have a chance to weigh in and offer additional commentary. Jackson said she didn’t want to put a number on how many meetings it could take to hammer out a final proposal. “It could be one, and everyone’s in love with it—I doubt it—and it could be as many as five,” she said.

She said the main sticking point this time around would be to not “stifle innovation,” which was clearly noted in an announcement sent out by the commission over the weekend.

Jackson said the rewrite won’t be focused on necessarily bringing Uber down to the taxicab level, and will likely include language that will put cab operators “on notice.”

“Competition is here,” she said in a statement sent out to the community. “If they hope to remain a viable choice with consumers, they will need to carefully examine their profession. It is clear to me that the public deserves transportation options that provide a safe ride, a clean vehicle, a courteous driver, and the ability to pay by credit card.”

She told Boston the reality of it is that “people aren’t picking up a phone and calling a taxi,” and the city needs to keep that in mind. “Those days are long gone. People are using their smartphones,” she said.

Jackson’s biggest concern overall is making sure livery and taxi services in Cambridge are safer, without stomping out travel options for residents and visitors. “I would like to see a common ground, but don’t know we will ever achieve that. This is my opinion, and I can’t speak for the other commissioners—I’m more concerned for the public safety aspect. I don’t think it’s our place to dictate what people use.”

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  • SamuelRoby

    Ride-sharing is a fraudulent transportation model. It profits on blatant refusal to comply with regulations, on non-payment of municipal business permits, on evasion of local taxes and regulatory fees. This failed model has been tried before. Self-regulation of public transportation services by private, and in this case – a private offshore-based corporation, is dangerous, irresponsible and just doesn’t work.
    Just a few days ago – a young woman was kidnapped by a “well”-rated Uber driver:
    http://www.reviewjournal.com/trending/uber-driver-arrested-kidnapping-drunk-woman

    • AmandaInMotion

      People voluntarily choosing to do business with one another is fraudulent? On what planet might that be?

      Uber doesn’t market itself as being anything it’s not. Its marketing is completely honest (http://tinyurl.com/oxqd7fd). Nothing fraudulent about any of it.

      You, Samuel, are displaying entitlement to other peoples’ money.

      • SamuelRoby

        Pay your local taxes, have your business permits,
        follow same laws and regulations as thousands of
        small transportation companies operating in the exact
        same market- and then voluntarily
        choose to do whatever business you wish. .

  • stuber

    Perhaps UBER and the other ride share app companies will just voluntarily end this whole controversy be switching their service over to an all-commercial fleet. UBER BLACK already works this way. Customers requesting UBER BLACK are served by regulated, insured, and fully permitted commercial cars and drivers. Everyone could support that model. But for the time being, there’s a problem. There are not enough owner/operator commercial cars out there. The UBER model is at odds with the industry as a whole, because the UBER model really only works for owner/drivers, and most drivers don’t own their vehicles. Instead drivers typically lease their cars and thus, they have to effectively split all their fares with a fleet company and also with UBER. Most drivers are paying lease holders for the ” right” to be in business. The taxi and livery fleet owners have written most of the regulations governing for hire vehicles in most cities. These companies are running crony capitalist monopolies designed to bar competition. Commercial insurers are in bed with them. Municipalities are in the same bed. Everybody wants to keep the system as is, because they’re all getting paid. Very well, actually. What the ridesharing companies are pushing for are new open markets where the public gets to decide what the system of regulations should look like. There has to some regulations and proper insurance of course, but that’s pretty simple to draft as long as the drafters get the politics out of the process. I say good riddance. Let the public(free market)choose what kind of taxi/livery system they want. The winner will be the drivers who own and run their own businesses.

    • SamuelRoby

      Sure. Just have same expenses as thousands upon thousands
      of law-abiding small transportation companies. Then we can compete fairly. No problem.

  • http://www.lyftvsuber.com Liz Miller

    Taxi companies protesting against Uber is akin to telegraph companies protesting against email. Evolve or perish. Go to http://www.lyftvsuber.com/ to try out Uber or Lyft for yourself! The website compares the two most popular ride-sharing services. $30 of FREE ride credit for new passengers and $500 sign-up BONUS for new drivers!! Drivers can make as much as $40/hr! Hope you can see what all the hype is about :) Thanks.

    • SamuelRoby

      If tax-evasions and law-breaking is the “new” innovation then
      perhaps you could be correct.
      Uber’s app is not unique.
      There are hundreds of apps and websites that offer the
      same service, and od so legally.

  • Larry Best

    Uber drivers are discussing all aspects of rideshare at this forum http://uberpeople.net

  • http://uber.com/invite/ubermeplease ubermeplease

    You can sign up now with promo code UBERMEPLEASE and get $30 off your first UBER ride!
    http://uber.com/invite/ubermeplease

  • andythebouncer

    The licensing commission had better be careful: they could easily sprain an ankle when backpedaling that vigorously.

  • carmabob

    Judging from this thread, there still appears to be a huge amount of confusion around what ‘ridesharing’ actually is.

    Ridesharing has been defined by the US Government (MAP-21 bill) as “offering the use of seats in privately owned vehicles to other passengers on a cost-reimbursement basis only”.

    Remember, it doesn’t matter if you found your ride by whistling from the side of the street, by using a smartphone, or even by making smoke signals. If you are paying a driver more than $0.565 per mile, then guess what? You are sitting in a cab!

    For legal, legitimate, rule-abiding ridesharing, check out http://carmacarpool.com