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Boston Taxis Protest Uber Car Service

BOSTON — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says the city is working to evaluate the safety of Uber and other on-demand transportation services after a protest by the Boston Taxi Drivers Association (BTDA) outside Uber’s local headquarters Thursday.

A Walsh spokesperson says the city recognizes the popularity of services like Uber and is working to find a solution that balances everyone’s needs.

A smartphone is mounted on the glass of an Uber car. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

A smartphone is mounted on the glass of an Uber car. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

The BTDA says Uber employs unregulated and unlicensed drivers for its UberX and UberXL services, compromising public safety.

“Every day these unlicensed Uber-for hire vehicles and drivers operate on the streets of Boston, it puts at risk residents, tourists and business passengers, who assume that these drivers and vehicles are safe and the rates are fair,” the BTDA union drivers said in a statement. “The unlicensed workforce for Uber has cut legitimate taxi business by 30 percent. Without a level playing field, Boston taxis will be driven out of existence, leaving the industry in a state of chaos and the public in danger.”

An Uber spokesperson told Boston Magazine that protesters were focusing their energy in the wrong place.

“Rich taxi medallion owners should spend their time improving customer service, serving undeserved communities, and investing in new, safe and reliable vehicles, rather than complaining about what Bostonians already know — Uber is the safest, most affordable, and reliable ride in Boston and Bostonians rely on Uber to get around the city,” the spokesperson said.

Last year, two Boston cab companies filed a lawsuit against Uber. The car service has faced pushback in other cities as well. In March, Seattle moved to put a cap on the number of “ride-share” drivers. Protests have been held in Los Angeles and Colorado.

Boston is one of more than 60 U.S. cities where Uber operates.

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  • ASB

    Uber drivers are far safer than taxi drivers. Every time someone takes a ride in an Uber that driver and car gets reviewed. Only a few bad reviews takes someone right off the road. Never mind the fact that Uber is vigorously pre-screening these people. It’s really difficult to give any feedback on cab ride, and the complaint line is a joke. If the city wants to get serious about regulations how about starting with the damn cabs.

    The whole taxi system has been corrupt for years with a few rich owners purposefully keeping a tight hold on the medallions. They deserve nothing but punishment for their terrible business practices.

    Uber also solves an ongoing issue in Boston that is caused by the multiple cities within the hub having different rules. Some taxis take credit cards, some don’t. Some go one direction but not the other…and really it’s all bullshit. Everyone just wants someone trustworthy to pick them up and drop them off.

    The taxi drivers will be fine, they will just start driving for Uber and the good ones will make more money.

    Frankly that fact that this articles covers none of the numerous safety, corruption, and other issues that have plagues Boston’s taxi’s for years screams of bad journalism. Tell the damn story, and not the PR spin paid for by the guys who own the taxi medallion racket.

  • Rach Sebell

    When I get into an Uber, I have the drivers name and license plate on my phone so should anything happen, it is a very clear path to find them. They also have my info which protects them. Safety goes both ways. We should protect drivers and not just passengers. Riding in an Uber is a great experience. I can not say the same for Taxis in Boston. Uber drivers are polite, friendly and great drivers. I have met some really great people on these rides. I never feel like my life is at risk with reckless driving (yes taxi drivers Im pointing a finger at you there!). Also the ambiance is nicer, they talk to you. Most of the time if I am in a taxi, the driver is talking/screaming at someone on their cell phone or blaring music. Another bonus to Uber is that they tell you how long the wait is so that you can wait inside instead of outside on a dark street corner hoping for a taxi to pass by you. As long as there are background checks and interviews, how is a taxi license a “safety” measure?

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