A single standard for Uber, taxis?
By State House News Service | August 14, 2015, 7:53 EDT
Written by Matt Murphy
With the Uber-versus-taxicab battle due to heat up this fall, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday said he would like to set up one statewide regulatory structure for both industries and help taxi drivers compete in the modern technology age.
The Joint Committee on Financial Services has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 15 to consider testimony on legislation to regulate transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. Baker has filed a bill to regulate the ride-sharing companies through the Department of Public Utilities, putting in rules regarding insurance requirements, background checks and a “basic regulatory infrastructure.”
While taxis are largely regulated city by city, Baker said he would “like to see us end up with a single statewide standard for both.”
“The offer we made to the taxi companies, we met with a number of them, was come on in and tell us what we can do to make your lives a little less complicated from a regulatory basis so that you can do the things you think you need to do to compete with the transportation network companies,” Baker said, elaborating on his position during an appearance Thursday on Boston Public Radio.
Baker said the ease with which the public can access rides through their smart phones is “not going away.” “In fact, it’s only gonna get more so and I think it’s important that we create a regulatory space in which the taxi folks can play on the same terms that the transportation network companies play on,” he said.
Asked by host Jim Braude whether he believed taxi drivers should be compensated in some way by the state for value of their medallions, which in many cases required a significant investment of life savings by drivers, Baker said his “initial inclination on that is no.”
The governor said he has seen many people across different industries lose retirement savings or businesses due to “disruptive technologies” that have improved the quality of life for many, but also hurt those left behind.
“The lineup of people who have been financially hut, and it’s hurt, by disruptive technologies is pretty long,” Baker said.
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