As Massachusetts legislators mull over regulating the ride for hire industry in our Commonwealth, they need to balance our safety without stifling innovation. Currently, a bill sits in the State House that is trying to both regulate our safety while also giving our corrupt taxi industry a break by banning Uber, Lyft, & Fasten from pick-ups at MA Convention Centers and Logan Airport for 5 years. Banning ride-sharing from any location in Boston is the wrong approach and I encourage residents to write to Senator Jamie Eldridge & Rep Aaron Michlewitz to change this bill. Below is what I sent to them today:
The Honorable James Eldridge
Room 218, Massachusetts State House
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Senator Eldridge,
Uber, Lyft, Fasten and other ride-sharing companies have changed the way we move around our city. For years, I can recall waiting on sidewalks late into the night to hail down a cab. The cabs were far and few between. Occasionally one would slow down to ask where I’m going. “K Street in Southie!” I’d shout out. And the cab driver, not impressed with the short ride, would drive off. Similarly, I can recall a few occasions when I’ve arrived on a red-eye flight from California to a cue of cab drivers unwilling to drive me to South Boston because it doesn’t provide them with a large enough fare.
Since the revolution of ride-sharing, residents are no longer left behind. Uber, Lyft, and similar companies are a more convenient, cost-effective alternative to a cab. I agree that these new companies needed some regulation and safety oversight but after reading proposed House Bill 4049, I believe it makes it harder for people to take full advantage of getting around efficiently and affordably. Banning the ride for hire industry on the properties of our convention centers or Logan Airport is a backwards approach to an antiquated system. Like many things in Boston, our taxi network needs to evolve with the changing times. If they cannot be innovative like the companies replacing them, then they don’t survive. Many drivers have made the switch from traditional cab driving to Uber and Lyft because they manage to make more money and work when it’s convenient for them.
Yes, the ride for hire industry needs safety regulations but this bill should focus on doing just that. Rather than trying to salvage an old, corrupt taxi system, our lawmakers should spend their time on ways to remake this government-created market. Ending the old system would be a win for the people and taxi drivers and a loss for medallion owners. At the end of the day, you are working for the people and any regulation should benefit the people you serve, not the wealthy oligarchs who’ve had control of this corrupt system for decades.
Thank you for your time and I hope you reconsider banning the ride for hire industry from the protection zones noted in Bill H.4049.