The controversy surrounding two cab companies - Uber and Lyft - may soon be clearing up.
Both companies have been operating illegally in Madison in recent months, because they fail to comply with city rules in place for traditional taxi cab companies. Alderman Scott Resnick introduced an ordinance this spring that would allow them to work legally, and now Mayor Paul Soglin seems to be following suit.
In a press conference Friday, Soglin announced a proposal to allow the companies to operate on Madison streets, provided they follow some ground rules. Those include requiring the services to open a Madison office, offer taxi services 24/7 and mark all vehicles. The rules also include prohibiting surge pricing. (You can view the full proposal here.)
"What's primary in terms of concern is public safety, protection of consumers and protection of full-time jobs," Soglin said at the conference.
Resnick's proposal differs from Soglin's largely in that it would require Uber and Lyft to operate around the clock over time, not immediately.
"My sense is they will not like this [proposal]," Soglin said of Uber and Lyft.
He may be right. Lyft responded to the announcement Friday with a statement that read in part, "the ordinance introduced today was crafted without any input from the ride-sharing community and will not work with our peer-to-peer model. The regulations included in the ordinance do not increase public safety or consumer choice."
Uber also responded with a statement, reading, "Mayor Soglin's proposal will take money out of our driver partners' pockets and prevent Madison residents from getting more affordable transportation options. It is also blatant protectionism of the city's taxi monopoly."
"We want to make sure the public has companies committed to serving them all the time in every neighborhood," Soglin said of his proposal.
He will introduce the measure to the Transportation and Pedestrian Committee in the coming weeks, before it's taken to the full City Council sometime in October or November, according to Soglin.
Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis are among U.S. cities that have legalized Uber and Lyft, according to Resnick.