Members of the taxi industry voiced their concerns at Monday’s Cambridge City Council meeting with ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, that have taken away a considerable share of their business in the area.
The taxi business in Boston lost nearly 25 percent of its revenue in the first half of 2015 during the rise of ride-sharing services that lacked the taxi industry’s regulations, according to the Boston Globe. Cambridge taxi drivers in particular went on strike in August to protest what they describe as an unfair playing field.
“There should not be two different laws [for taxis and ride-sharing services]: there should be one law for the same purpose of work. We are heavily regulated by the city and they are not,” said Balwinder S. Gill, a Cambridge-based taxi owner and driver.
Gill stated Cambridge taxi drivers have sought recourse in local government.
“[The city councillors] are the ones who can change the law, they're the ones who can put [ride-sharing services] under regulations,” Gill said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”
For his part, Cambridge City Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen said that taking extreme measures to address taxi drivers’ concerns is not pragmatic—rather, a conciliation of interests would be needed to fairly mediate the situation.
"Uber is here to stay. It’s going to be legislated on a state level, so the taxi [drivers’] interest on getting UberX banned outright is not realistic, because UberX will find a way into the market legally,” Mazen said.
Mazen mentioned that three different bills had been introduced in the Massachusetts State Senate: one supported by the taxi industry, one support by Uber, and a consensus bill proposed by the governor. While the legislation is being discussed, Mazen said that the Council seeks a compromise that balances consumer and business interests.
Peter Valentine, a Cambridge resident, brought levity to the proceedings with his support for local taxi drivers and his advice for city councillors.
“Don’t participate in the chaos of change,” Valentine said.
—Staff writer Samuel Vasquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @svasquez14.
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