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Taxi drivers and drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft took opposing views at the State House Tuesday, as a lawmakers listened to testimony about regulating the so called "transportation network companies."
In the front section of the Gardner Auditorium, the largest public hearing room in the State House, a couple hundred taxi drivers sat wearing yellow T-shirts. In the back were roughly 150 to 200 Uber and Lyft drivers — the Uber drivers wearing blue, and the Lyft drivers in pink.
Wardrobe wasn't the only difference.
The drivers of Uber and Lyft expressed support for Gov. Charlie Baker's proposed bill, which would put the drivers under the purview of the Department of Public Utilities and require them to carry $1 million worth of insurance.
DPU Chairwoman Angela O'Connor told the Legislature's Financial Services Committee that companies like Uber and Lyft are here to stay.
"As a leading edge technology state, the Baker-Polito Administration believes we should embrace new technologies as we seek to solve our transportation needs, and that the customer should have more choices to get from here to there," O'Connor said.
But cab drivers want a more stringent bill — one that would subject ride-hailing drivers to stronger regulations, including fingerprinting and price controls.
Rep. Michael Moran, of Brighton, is a co-sponsor of that bill. He says stronger regulations are essential to ensure public safety.
"To put these regulations in place, we have to agree that just because you use a smartphone application that allows you to hail a ride, [that] doesn't make you a technology company, it makes you a transportation company," he said.
The committee will examine provisions of both bills before likely coming out with its own version later this year or in 2016.
This segment aired on September 15, 2015.
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