More Meetings About Uber’s Operations to Be Held in Cambridge
Until then, it's 'business as usual.'
The battle over Uberâs 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 cityâs License Commission, said the departmentâs executive director would do a âcomplete rewriteâ of a proposal floated by the city earlier this month that set off a heated debate between fans of Uberâs on-demand car services, and drivers from the taxi industry that are under strict guidelines regulated by lawmakers.
âWe 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,â said Jackson. âThe first draft was essentially just that. It was, âhey, letâs have a discussion about it, what do you think.ââ
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 cityâs attempt at putting forth a document that, if passed, would have curbed the app-based companyâs 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.
âThe executive director will take a stab at doing another draft, and she will send it to the board asking for comment,â said Jackson.
That draft, once complete, will be followed by a series of public hearings possibly in the fall. Residents will have a chance toÂ weigh in and offer additional commentary. Jackson said she didnât want to put a number on how many meetings it could take to hammer out a final proposal. âIt could be one, and everyoneâs in love with itâI doubt itâand it could be as many as five,â she said.
She said the main sticking point this time around would be to not âstifle innovation,â which was clearly noted in an announcement sent out by the commission over the weekend.
Jackson said the rewrite wonât be focused on necessarily bringing Uber down to the taxicab level, andÂ will likely include language that will put cab operators âon notice.â
âCompetition is here,â she said in a statement sent out to the community. âIf 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.â
She told Boston the reality of it is that “people arenât 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’sÂ biggest concern overall is making sureÂ 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 donât know we will ever achieve that. This is my opinion, and I can’t speak for the other commissionersâI’m more concerned for the public safety aspect.Â I donât think it’s our place to dictate what people use.”
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/06/30/uber-cambridge-technology-meetings/