HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Connecticut taxi drivers say they are on a collision course with UBER, the phenomenally successful ride-sharing smart phone app that has been moving into Connecticut. UBER drivers say it’s working, and that people like it. The taxi cab companies say it’s unfair and unsafe.
More than 20,000 Connecticut residents have a taxi cab driver’s license. There are over 400 taxi cab companies, and they all appear to be in a battle for survival against UBER.
UBER is a free, smart phone app that owns no vehicles and technically employs no drivers. The app allows you to get a ride
from someone in their own car willing to come and pick you up. It tells you who is coming, and what kind of car they’re driving, and the fare is cheaper.
More than a hundred Connecticut residents that have signed up and are driving for UBER jammed into a legislative hearing room today joining regular cab drivers and cab company operators ready to do verbal battle. “This is what the consumers of Connecticut want, they want another option,” said UBER driver Mike Cacioppo of North Haven. “UBER has more of a sense of accountability, not only for the driver but also for the riders,” added Noe Castro, and UBER driver from Bridgeport.
But that’s not the way the cab operators see it. State regulations require cab drivers to have a finger print based background check, and physicals like truck and school bus drivers. “We’re not asking for changes for regulations or laws, we just want them to comply with the laws that are currently on the books,” said Joe Miller of Curtain Transportation.
“There’s no regulation for the cars, for safety for inspection, for anything,” added Anthony Boskello of Greenwich Taxi.
The proposal to regulate UBER was written by Representative Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford) who signed up to be an UBER driver himself to investigate, “I sort of saw, first hand, how lax their regulations were.” Another lawmaker points out that if you use your personal car like a taxi cab you’re violating your own insurance policy which says you don’t use it for business and any loan you may have on your car, which says the same thing. “That’s a big liability problem and UBER doesn’t have an answer for it,” said Sen. Mike McLaughlan (R-Danbury)>
Last year; Colorado became the first to regulate what are described as ‘transporation network companies’ like UBER, requiring a permit, insurance coverage, vehicle inspections, and driver criminal background checks for drivers.