Friday, January 18, 2019

Rockville, Md.—Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) has launched a campaign to counteract the misinformation spread by Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, and to help passengers with concerns about these unregulated transportation companies.

“Who’s Driving You?” is one part information portal for those seeking facts about the rise of the so-called “ridesharing” industry, and one part help desk for passengers concerned about the ugly side of Uber and its service UberX, as well as Lyft and Sidecar.

“Whatever these companies, their CEOs, or their Wall Street or Hollywood investors say in public tends to be taken as the gospel truth, and that’s just not the case,” says Robbie Werth, president of TLPA. “They say they are simply technology companies—yet they are taxi companies. They say they are insured—yet refuse to take responsibility for accidents. They say their drivers are properly screened—yet time and again we see convicted felons behind the wheel. We’ve had enough.”

The public can file an incident report based on their concerns over interactions with Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar in the cities in which these unregulated transportation companies operate. The report can be filed at whosdrivingyou.org. Website staff will immediately inform on how to file a complaint with local officials. The public is also encouraged to connect with the campaign on Facebook (WhosDrivingYou) and on Twitter (@WhosDrivingYou).

The campaign coincides with a new poll released last week that shows that Florida residents overwhelmingly want Uber to be regulated at the local level just like traditional taxi companies (78 percent). The research comes just as Florida lawmakers are being approached by Uber—possibly, some news reports say, to push for legislation that would effectively permit the company to operate statewide wherever it chooses, rather than be subject to city-by-city “home rule” regulations that govern the taxi industry.

The poll, commissioned by Orlando-based Mears Transportation Group, showed that among Floridians:

• 78 percent believe Uber should be subject to the same local city regulations as taxis.

• 69 percent said Uber’s fares should be regulated and therefore avoid Uber’s whimsical “surge-pricing.”

• 89 percent want to see Uber’s drivers go through the same background checks as taxi drivers.

• 92 percent insist that Uber carry traditional liability insurance the same as taxis.

The poll also points to troubling questions in terms of discriminatory service, quoting sociologist Dr. James Wright of the University of Central Florida as saying that “UBER-ineligible Floridians” are disproportionately Hispanic (59 percent), African American (55 percent), low income (70 percent), and elderly (64 percent). This is partially due to the fact that smartphone and credit card accessibility is lower among these populations, both of which are required to use the service. Uber also does not have a service for disabled riders, who could benefit greatly from the service.

The TLPA has been a vocal critic of Uber, its unlicensed amateur driver service, UberX, and of other unregulated transportation companies such as Lyft and Sidecar. The association has repeatedly warned that drivers for these services do not carry proper commercial auto liability insurance that is necessary in the for-hire industry; that drivers are not properly screened and fingerprinted in police-conducted background checks; and that residents in low-income neighborhoods and people with disabilities cannot avail themselves of the services.

Visit tlpa.org for more information.

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