City, taxi companies speak out against new ride-sharing services

Companies Uber, Lyft operating outside city ordinance
City, taxi companies speak out against new ride-sharing services

The city and local cab companies are speaking out against new ride-sharing companies that Madison police and the city attorney are calling illegal taxi services.

New companies, Lyft and Uber, which launched in the last month, are ride sharing companies that allow customers to order a ride from drivers using a downloadable phone application. The drivers are then paid a fee based on how far the trip was.

To most, this sounds like an average cab company, but the difference is the drivers aren’t licensed or vetted by the city.

“There are taxi cab regulations and as they’ve been interpreted by the Madison Police Department, they are not operating illegally,” said Madison District 8 Alder Scott Resnick.

According to Madison law, taxi and cab services must have operating licenses, vehicle and driver permits. Currently, neither Uber nor Lyft, which have been deemed taxi services, are registered.

“The whole idea of another transportation company in Madison is pretty offensive to all of us if they don’t have to follow the same rules we do,” said Mark Adkins, who’s been driving for Union Cab for 16 years.

Cab companies said they also have serious questions about how drivers and passengers are protected accidents and surge pricing by the new ride-sharing services. Phil Anderson of Green Cab, said he isn’t concerned about competition as much as he is safety.

“Between the vehicles, the drivers and their particular issues and the insurance; none of those are a guarantee with Uber or Lyft,” he said.

According to the websites of both companies, cars and drivers are insured by standard $1 million dollar liability coverage and various amounts for uninsured drivers or passengers.

The general manager of Uber – Wisconsin, Nick Anderson, said in an email his company is solving a large problem in the transportation system and said “certain government bodies are protecting the taxi industry and some misunderstand our business model entirely.”

Resnick said he’s excited these businesses have chosen Madison and is hoping to find a way to accommodate both existing taxi companies and newer ride-sharing services.

The city’s transit and parking commission is set to meet March 12 to discuss how to address the new companies.