State Legislators Pressured by Uber Campaign Speak out

Forry and Moran make their case in an op/ed.

Uber / via Uber

Uber / via Uber

Two state legislators targeted by Uber for sponsoring a bill on Beacon Hill that would regulate the ride hailing company spoke out in a Boston Globe op/ed on Thursday. 

Dorchester State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and Brighton State Representative Michael Moran defended their bill, arguing that they want to apply the same regulations to “transportation network companies” that currently apply to all other for-hire transportation companies in the state.

They dismissed criticism that they are filing legislation solely to placate the collapsing taxi cab industry, a once powerful force that has seen its power evaporate with the disruptive rise of ride hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. The pair pushed back strongly against suggestions that they would cripple the innovation economy in Boston.

“In no way are we trying to “destroy” companies like Uber. We recognize the positive economic impact these companies have for individual drivers and their families — along with the commuting public. This legislation would not limit transportation choices in the Commonwealth. We want ride services like Uber to be open and available for everyone, including people with disabilities,” they said in their op/ed.

Uber sent an email to customers in the Greater Boston area on Monday that encouraged them to tell their state legislators they are opposed to the bill known as H. 3702. In the email, Uber said the bill would “force Uber out of Massachusetts.” The sophisticated digital campaign included a push on social media with #UberMovesMA. Their push to reach out to state legislators was at the top of r/Boston at one point earlier this week, too.

“We welcome and encourage the kind of innovation that is behind the growth of ride-sharing services. But innovation must be balanced with public safety and consumer protection considerations, no matter what the industry. If common-sense regulations and keeping people safe are going to ‘destroy’ Uber’s business model, then the model needs to change,” they said.

In the op/ed, Forry and Moran raised concerns about Uber’s ability to provide transportation for people with disabilities and their controversial practice of adjusting prices to supply and demand, known as “surge pricing.”

A number of bills addressing ride hailing apps are currently making their way through the legislature. Governor Charlie Baker has proposed regulations of his own that he would like to see implemented but don’t expect action anytime this summer. The legislature will not act on these bills until they return from their mid-summer recess in September.