Gridlock downtown as medallion cabbies protest Uber

Cab protest

Meng Mao captured the scene this afternoon as local cab drivers circled Uber's downtown office to protest its service.

Click to hear the sounds of dozens of horns held down in fury as cab drivers urge Uber to recognize the error of its non-regulated ways.

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Comments

Yawn.

Yawn.

I have so limited patience for these cabbies trying to stop competition. When I lived in Dot, they'd never take me there (Oh, I just got on my shift--I don't have any change...) and they fight any kind of innovation tooth & nail.

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Cabbies refused to drive me

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Cabbies refused to drive me to East Boston ,from fanuel hall to the end of tunnel in Eastie, around 1:30 am , So what would you do in that situation, well I would go and call Ubah!!

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What a useful barely legible

What a useful barely legible protest sign!

Do these nuts even realize they're just giving Uber, the best car service ever, more money by lazing around yelling?

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Yah

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I'm sure they're real worried about passenger safety. Please. They're losing money because for years they could offer shitty service, bad attitudes, and dangerous conditions and people didn't have an alternative. Now they do and people would rather pay extra for better service, people excited to service their clients, and nice vehicles.

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UberX...

In addition to the benefits you cite above, UberX is cheaper than traditional cabs and the drivers (in my experience) are incredibly friendly and drive late model, immaculately maintained vehicles.

I'm done with Boston cabs. I had a missed flight experience with Metro Cab last winter that forever soured me. Of course, this is in addition to years of riding in cabs where the drivers have no idea where they are going and/or keep the interiors of their cars in a disgusting condition.

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Yes! How could I forget the

Yes! How could I forget the cabbie that slammed to a halt ON THE RAMP from 93N to the Ted Williams (when the Big Dig was still happening, and you had to kind-of shimmy your way over there on the surface roads) because some new route opened up and he had NO IDEA where he needed to go. Oh yeah. Good times.

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Rain

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It's a rainy day in Boston, I'm sure there's no one looking for a cab, what a bunch of morons. You couldn't pay me to take a cab in this city anymore. I was desperate the other night and tried to get one, a guy rolled up, cracked the window and asked if I had cash, then almost ran over my foot speeding off when I told him I didn't.

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So that's where all the cabs are...

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...Because good luck getting one to arrive in a timely fashion (if you can get through to dispatch, that is), or to actually stop for you on the corner during a busy evening. They're also obviously not at the carwash getting godknowswhat removed from the wheel-wells in the back.

I've given up on the usual methods of calling a cab. I will use Hailo occasionally (yes, usually when they've offered me a credit, which seems to be a couple of times a month), but other than that, I'm an Uber-girl! The fact that I'm willing to pay more to take an Uber rather than a cab should tell the cabbies something.

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I'll go back to using cabs when they clean up their act

That means:
1. no "broken" credit card machines
2. get your ass out of the bike lanes
3. stop charging for tolls when there are not any tolls on the route
4. stop lying about knowing where you are going
5. stop smoking in the cabs
6. learn to drive properly
7. get insurance that isn't your medallion owner's insurance business, and enough of it to matter!

These are also reasons why my organization contracts with Uber and limo services - too many extreme cab fares for people coming into the city on our dime because of extreme misbehavior.

BTW, cabbies: UBER IS NOT "UNREGULATED". In fact, they are required to carry a hell of a lot more real insurance than you are.

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I'm with you.

I'm with you.

Uber is cheaper, cleaner, and friendlier. I'm sick and tired of the taxi experience, particularly the drivers who spend your entire ride practically yelling into a cell phone. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to say "excuse me... excuse me... EXCUSE ME--STOP HERE!!!" just to break through some cabbie's personal conversation. That, and I swear that half of the cabbies I get are in some state of substance-based impairment.

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In an act of brilliance our

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In an act of brilliance our shitty cab drivers have demonstrated why the city NEEDS UBER!

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Boston taxis have not covered themselves in glory

They don't show up despite repeated calls (and I have a plane to catch), don't know their way around or deliberately take roundabout routes to my destination, drive distracted by constantly talking on the phone, refuse card payment (illegally), blare bad music, and don't keep their vehicles well-maintained or clean inside.

I realize it is a very hard way to make a living here, but it's really hard to pass up Uber, a ride that I know is showing up only for me, will not stop en route to pick up another fare, lets me track their progress toward arrival, lets me estimate my fare before summoning them, charges me and gives me a map of my route online, and lets me rate their performance. (I also like that they get to rate passengers in return, so genuine assholes can get banned from service.) The cars are always clean, spacious, and no more than four years old.

Oh, yeah, and often, in fact usually, significantly cheaper. That would be an awful lot of innovative improvements even if Boston taxis were clean, safe and reliable.

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What a great example of why I

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What a great example of why I take Uber all the time now.

I haven't taken a taxi in 6+ months because of... poorly maintained cabs, "broken" credit card machines, 50+ mph death rides down comm ave, cabs that smell like cigarette smoke, the globe series on how terrible the insurance is.... I could really keep going, but I think you get my point.

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hmm

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Just signed up for Uber

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First Uber Trip Today

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Took my first Uber trip today and the company I work for just switched from cab vouchers to Uber.....first trip was a success. Wait time for uber car - 5-7 minutes. ordered from smart phone. car was clean and driver personable. Bye Bye Cabbies.....although the city will want to figure out a way to tax them similar to the medallion process and screw up the entire thing:( This is a huge test for Marty Walsh to figure out!

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They may claim to be a "union"

... but what they really are is the Boston chapter of the Anti-Destination League!

Meanwhile, the mob bosses that hold the medallions and cause the problems are avoiding any and all meaningful action.

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I had better hear about 50+ citations being issued

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for unnecessary use of a horn.

For those interested, here is the excerpt from Section 16 of Chapter 90:

"...No person operating a motor vehicle shall sound a bell, horn or other device, nor in any manner operate such motor vehicle so as to make a harsh, objectionable or unreasonable noise..."

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What a bunch of...

Idiots! As if cabbies in Boston aren't hated enough they take this dumbazz approach to fight some competition. And they do all this while essentially giving a bunch of free advertising to Uber. Morons.

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Let's see...one talks on

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Let's see...one talks on phone to someone while driving like a total idiot in a hurry to die. The other only talks on phone to call you to make sure they know where you are and pays attention to driving. One drives a trashed out heap that smells like an ashtray and an armpit that hasn't seen soap in a week. The other drives a clean and good smelling roomy car. One gets upset when you try to use a credit card...or the tip is reflective of the thrill ride. The other opens the door for the lady and says thank you...with no need to reach for wallet. And now one is adding to the gridlock and noise pollution...while the other is trying to get you to your appointment while asking if you would like a bottle of water and if the AC is the right temp. Let me think...which one should I pick for my next ride?

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Forget Boston cabs

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Last weekend, i called one of the Boston cab companies and was told the car would be at my home in 20 minutes. 30 minutes later and no cab, so i finally decided to try Uber. I was promised a ten minute wait time. The driver showed up 10 minutes later in a clean car, drove carefully, and Uber has now earned yet another customer. Sorry, Boston cabs. You just don't compare.

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Sorry, Boston cabs. You just

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Sorry, Boston cabs. You just don't compare.

Uber's burning up VC money right now and paying its drivers in promises, which is why it can afford to look like the answer to your dreams. Of course, as soon as it's wounded the cabs' business, you'll see the fares climb and surge pricing kick in any time that's not 3pm on Tuesdays, so be careful what you wish for.

Of course the end users love Uber!

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Not that I have any great love for the majority of the cab drivers in this town, but let's be fair here. If you paid 600K for a cab license and had to watch as some kids who have no experience in the livery business come into your town and set up shop while telling the local authorities fuck you, you'd be a little pissed off wouldn't you?

Of course most of you don't see the Uber drivers illegally soliciting cash fares at Logan or South Station. Most of you don't see a desperate Uber driver parking their cars at Terminal B or A and running into the terminal to solicit passengers. This is due to the fact that most of these guys were ex-cab drivers who bring the sleazy attitudes they had as cab drivers into their Uber cars and Uber's response to their drivers breaking the law is, "Hey, what do want from us,they aren't Uber employees, they're independent contractors". Also, these guys aren't used to down time, so between the hours of 10 and 3 during the week,when Uber is slow, you can find dozens of Uber drivers in front of hotels, at train stations and airports and even at the Harvard Business School soliciting cash fares.

Next time you get hit with unregulated surge pricing from Uber, you might want to think about the fact they keep the driver count artificially low, so that they can tell people there is a shortage of cars so that surge pricing can go into effect. I know drivers who put their papers into Uber last year and Uber still hasn't contacted them to arrange a interview.

Uber, in concept, is a great idea. Unfortunately, as anyone who reads Valleywag can tell you, it's run by scumbags. So much so that St. Louis just kicked Uber out and gave the on demand car business to one of the local car companies, mainly because of their fuck you attitude.

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Response to dvdoff

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I don't know what you're talking about, dvdoff. I use the black car for uber all of the time & all over Boston. It never exceeds 20 dollars, and is less most of the time. The drivers also show up within 3 minutes of my request with a beautiful, clean & air conditioned car. When I take rides from dirty, attitude ridden cabs the price is oftentimes higher, because the jerk decides to take the long way. But not tipping often balances that out :)

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There we go

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I admit, I was waiting for you to bring in the anti-Uber party line, trotting out the cabbies' talking points.

I don't really believe most of them, and given that every single one can be applied to taxi drivers, those issues are moot when it comes to one vs. the other.

As for the $600K medallions (NOT "licenses"); given that so many are in fact owned by investors not individual drivers, I don't really find that a compelling argument for continuing to subject consumers to crappy service.

Those taxi services which are interested in competing fairly are doing so; more and more companies are offering smart-phone hailing. If they continue to make themselves competitive from a customer service end of things, they'll have Uber beat on price and will retain customers. If they continue to treat customers as a guaranteed commodity which they don't have to service properly, they won't.

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Let me ask you this..

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Why don't you believe most of them? How much time do you spend on the street? Keep in mind, Uber has absolutely no effect on my business whatsoever. My clients pay for me to wait for them, not the other way around and will always do so.

And as far as your point about who owns the medallions in this town, while it's true that the people like the Barenholtz's and the Tatungians have an lot of medallions, there are more small time operators than large fleet owners at this point.

And I was not one of those who hated Uber from the get go, it has provided some good friends with a living during the slow times in the regular livery business, but the inherent sleaziness of it's owners and management makes me sick and I hope that it is replaced by a company with both ethics and a real knowledge of the livery industry. So far, startup Gett looks to be that company. I'll be curious to see how they fare against Uber if and when they come to Boston.

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I don't care who owns the medallion

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I'm sick and tired of the old "my credit card doesn't work" and the "charging the toll even though I took route 16" and the old "car smells like shit and driver is insane".

The real deal breaker for my company was when the cab told an out of town guest that the card machine was broken, then ran the meter while she had to run into the hotel and negotiate a cash charge to pay the asshole.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Riders should form a union and picket city hall for this bullshit!

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Next time they charge you for

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Next time they charge you for a toll you did not take I find a simple "What is your medallion #?" gets them to back off their bs charges.

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Boston Cab driver recommended Uber

My husband often takes early morning flights from Logan and calls Boston cab the night before to book the car. Then he calls to remind them when he wakes up. And always he's assured that a driver will be there by 5 am (or whatever time he needs them). And they are always late. Oftentimes so late that I'm yanking the kids out of bed and pulling them out the door to race daddy to the airport by the time they show up.
The last time he used boston cab, I was on the front porch with kids in pajamas on the way to the cat when the cab showed up. I refrained from yelling at him because I figured it was dispatches fault. He told us not to ever call Boston cab for an early am taxi. He said, call uber. They will be on time every time. And we've never called boston cab again.

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Was waiting for this

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I was waiting for some poor soul to try to defend the cabbies. Such a losing battle don't even try. I'm guessing you don't take cabs much because if you did you would understand how god awful they are. Here's a test: go try catching a cab downtown after 10pm and pay with a credit card. Then come back here and try to defend the cabbies.

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It had nothing to do with Uber per se

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So much so that St. Louis just kicked Uber out and gave the on demand car business to one of the local car companies, mainly because of their fuck you attitude.

And everything to do with handing a proven business model off to a friend of those in power with local ties and (ahem) contributions.

But do persist in your lala land.

When cabs start functioning like they do in Manhattan, we'll talk.

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Really?

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Funny how the former head of the TLC, NYC's regulatory office that oversees Uber, just went to work for Uber. Add to that the bazillion dollars Google just threw at them and they're just as good at that game as anyone else. Also, Uber just got bounced from Miami, so obviously throwing cash around doesn't work everywhere. Also, we all know that Mahty Walsh is a big fan, I wonder how much Uber has thrown his way?

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Maybe

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He has the same Boston Cabs Suck Terribly horror stories that everyone else does?

Imagine that!

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I don't think you are listening

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Boston taxis suck and the drivers suck.

People like Uber because it DOES NOT SUCK.

Most of the suck in Boston Cabs is illegal suck, too, so it is directly in the hands of these cab drivers to not suck.

And yet ... they whine!

Got it?

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You lost me

With all the bla bla bla following "Of course the end users love Uber."

The end users love Uber. The rest is just justification.

One of the reasons we love Uber is that taxis suck in Boston worse than in any city I've ever visited. It's sub-third world service here.

If there's some scummy business behind the scenes (behind that shiny brand new black Mercedes that arrives in exactly seven minutes as called, with a polite, well-groomed driver who pays attention to his customer), so what? Did you not notice there's some scummy business behind the scenes with taxis, with their medallion overlords running dozens of poor fresh off the boat schmucks 24/7 to pay the rental fees? And what a scene it is, crappy filthy smelly crown vic with the aftermarket barrier taking all the leg room from the clapped-out back seat lurching and smoking its random way through Boston as the driver harangues somebody in Arabic over bluetooth while guessing which road in this unfamiliar city goes where.

If the scumbags who run Uber drive the scumbags who run medallions and the scumbags who drive Boston taxis into the ground it won't be too soon. Uber is a great success here in direct proportion to how much the taxis suck.

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STL is not a good example of

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STL is not a good example of a forward looking city. Speaking from experience, the cabs in STL are worse than in BOS. There is very little positive happening in STL, which is a big reason we left.

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$20 from South Station to Eastie

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Yup, that's what a cabbie demanded one night when my bus to Boston ran late. I paid because I didn't feel like walking home via Charlestown and Chelsea. Fuck those guys with a rusty shovel.

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As long as I can remember.....

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I hated taking the cab, trying to get a cab near the hospital was hard if you wanted to go to Roxbury, either the cab was "out of service," or the driver just dosn't go that way. If your lucky to get a cab you would find the driver had their own "short cuts," the fare dosn't match up with last trip with similar directions and road conditions, sometimes a $5-$10 diffrence, and the worst of it all was the drivers would have headphone or bluetooth in their ears causing them to be distractred.
The Taxi from hell story was this, the driver was taking me home and was taking a "short-cut," I told him he needed to take a right, and went though four lanes of traffic to take a right. Boston Police saw what he did and pulled him over, the worst part was the officer asked to see his license and registration, but never stopped the meter, another officer was on the pasenger side and yelled at the driver to stop the meter, the guy got so scared he cleared the meter by acident. He got fined $1,000 and had to go to court.
When I started taking Uber, the cars, the people, and the trips were all pleasant, my expeirnce with them have been great and I love the fact I can rate the drivers between 1-5 stars. I don;t have the hear that the credit card machine is down and I don't have the hear the stupid Taxi TV Shit!
Was ever Taxi driver from Hell? No
Is Ever Uber Driver Perfect? No
I have had taxi driver who have given me safe rides, and the uber drivers could learn where things and places are besides relying heavily on their GPS. The few Taxi drivers who follow the rules are being hurt by allot of drivers who break the rules, dosn't offer customer service, and tries to cheat the customer when the "Credit Card Machine is Down."
Uber has been a blessing, I love it, it has its problems, but with the price, the people and the great cars, you can't beat it.

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Done with cabs

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Leaving Faneuil Hall Sunday night, Metro cabs everywhere, 3 stopped to ask if I needed a cab. There was one that stopped after his third time circling the block and asked me; "if you don't need a cab why are you still here." Me: "I have an Uber otw". He pulls out an anti-Uber sticker and told me he was attending a protest this week, then asked why I liked Uber better. "For starters, they don't have earbuds in their ears while driving like you're wearing" well, at about reason #4 he was pretty pissed, timed it well with my Uber's GPS, pulled up just in time.

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I think we can all agree the

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I think we can all agree the Boston cab industry sucks and needs major overhaul. Uber is filling a clear area of need and doing it well.

But that also doesn't mean Uber shouldn't be subject to any oversight. They are self-regulating, which example after example has shown us is not a good idea. Additionally, Uber claims its drivers are independent contractors so if an Uber driver hits a pedestrian, for example. Uber believes the victim should not be able to sue Uber but should only be able to go after the driver. That is not the case for a taxi where the company is liable for a driver's actions. That's a significant issue. There's a big case in California right now on this very issue that will dictate a lot of what Uber is able to do going forward. Even if you like Uber, as I do, it's important they play by some base level rules and are responsible for what its drivers do. That benefits all of us that use it. They can't profit off their drivers but then claim they're not responsible for them either.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/02/02/270359642/is-uber-...

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Fat chance

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That is not the case for a taxi where the company is liable for a driver's actions

ROFL. You really think that anyone is going to be held responsible for anything, if a pedestrian gets hit by a taxi? What is this, Amsterdam?

In America, holding the taxi company responsible, heck, holding the driver responsible, would be a major innovation.

I think we can all agree about the importance of good regulation that ACTUALLY improves safety and creates a level playing field. But the only thing cabbies want is corrupt, industry-captured regulation that blocks competition and prevents customers from receiving good, safe service.

The old-style taxi industry can't die soon enough. Bunch of corrupt scumbags.

I dunno about the people up top in Uber, I have heard the same rumors. But there can easily be competition, and is: Lyft, Sidecar, whatever else is next.

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The company is legally liable

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The company is legally liable, yes. That's not debatable. Now, the industry here is a mess but that's another whole issue. It should be completely overhauled.

You need to separate distaste for the Boston taxi industry, where I'm 100% with you, from not caring if Uber is regulated or not. It's a legitimate issue. The taxi drivers are the worst messengers for it since their motives have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with hating the competition. Too bad for them that their product sucks. But again, that doesn't mean Uber should be exempt from any regs either - example, they run a livery service but aren't subject to the Mass. livery regs. To say competition will keep Uber in check ignores a long history in this country of industries who claimed the same thing and it didn't happen. And as I mentioned, there is the very real legal liability issue that needs to be resolved.

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Strawman

Uber cars are independent limousine operators. When not picking up Uber fares, they are buzzing around scooping up their own contract folks.

They are regulated as any limo is, and carry far more insurance than the cabs.

Stop this nonsense and misinformation, please. Or, at least, go learn what you are talking about before you comment any further.

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Anyone with a nice and clean

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Anyone with a nice and clean sedan can sign up to be an UberX driver subject to a background check. You do not have to be an independent limo operator, you can be a law student looking to make some extra cash. Uber does indeed have insurance for the drivers, but have shown already that they are trying to get out from claims due to driver accidents. There is a lot of information and articles on this out there, it's not hidden information and I am hardly the first person to raise issues with that.

Leave the personal attacks at home please.

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This "debate" is about something that doesn't exist

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The company is legally liable, yes. That's not debatable.

What debate? You seem to be postulating the existence of something that does not happen. Please show me a case where a taxi company was actually held responsible for the bad behavior of one of its drivers. I'll wait.

Meanwhile I'll point out that I come to this from the perspective of a street safety advocate. I would like to see regulations that actually hold drivers responsible for their behavior. That does not currently exist, or are not enforced. It does not matter whether you are driving a taxicab, an Uber-contracted vehicle, or a private vehicle. In all cases, if you are not drunk, and if you do not flee the scene, you will not be held responsible for a crash, in all likelihood.

The idea that "Uber is unregulated" is completely bogus. Uber motor vehicles are regulated in exactly the same way that all other motor vehicles are regulated: poorly. But that failure is not specific to Uber, and picking on them in particular shows ulterior motives.

What the taxicab medallion owners want is special regulation that protects their cartel, and protects their profits. In most other industries, that would be considered anti-competitive behavior subject to legal action under antitrust legislation. Taxicab medallion owners are not interested in street safety, they are only selfishly interested in their own profits at the public's expense, and their calls for "regulation" should be understood as completely disingenuous and self-serving.

As I said earlier, we can all agree about good regulation that ACTUALLY protects the public from danger. What taxicab medallion owners want is bad regulation that only protects their selfish interests, at our expense.

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I'm not worried about the cab

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I'm not worried about the cab industry. I can only say that so many times. Their motives are transparent and what you said about them is completely accurate. The way they are regulated is a mess as the Globe series exposed. That's a separate issue from what I've said about the liability issues involving Uber, which are real and I am definitely not the first person who is not on a taxi company payroll to say that. In fact, I only became aware of these issues after reading various pieces on NPR and other sites. Now, if you want me to get behind better regulation in general, I'm with you completely. This is a thread about Uber so I am talking about Uber. Uber's model presents unique issues that are coming to a head due in part to their aggressive nature.

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My point is that it's not

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My point is that it's not unique to Uber.

The failure of safety regulation is a failure that applies across the board. It applies to taxicabs. It applies to Uber. And it applies to private vehicles operated for private purposes.

So why is the fight being picked with Uber? In the case of the taxicab companies, their motivation is to pick at anything, anything at all, that can be used against the competition. Even if it could be turned against themselves. But regular folks don't have that bone to pick. So why pick it?

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Speaking as a regular person

Speaking as a regular person with no economic skin in the game, I am concerned about Uber's specific model regarding company liability and what that means for me or a family member or friend if we are hit by an Uber driver as a pedestrian or perhaps as a passenger injured. That concern extends to the general public. I realize they have insurance but there's more to it than that. I also am interested in the legal issues surrounding this new model and how it's playing out as an academic interest.

The cab companies' motives are transparent and not really worth much salt. I also think the regulatory schema there is clearly broken, I don't know how anyone could think otherwise. Lots and lots of people have said as much. I'm not sure Uber is really being singled out - a lot more people hate cabs than Uber I think.

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Have you read the Boston Globe series on Boston Cabs?

If you had, you would understand that you are far more likely to see an insurance payout and get any court judgements paid off if you are hit by an Uber limo than a cab.

Cabs aren't required to carry much insurance AND they are often insured by the same people who are required to regulate them.

Meanwhile, Ubers are actually limousines, which carry the much higher level of limo insurance. I'd worry about Lyft, but not Uber.

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Certainly have read it. I've

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Certainly have read it. I've said in multiple comments what my opinion of the Boston cab industry is. The use of these shell companies and so forth is a major problem. The whole industry here and regulatory scheme needs overhaul. What is supposed to happen is not actually happening. No disputing that. But Uber is also trying to shirk liability as well for drivers' actions - there are multiple cases on this point going on currently.

Fundamentally, I don't think it needs to be an "either-or" proposition. I can think cabs sucks (they do) and also think Uber is not a panacea in its current form.

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I can think cabs sucks (they

I can think cabs sucks (they do) and also think Uber is not a panacea in its current form.

I don't believe anyone has claimed that it's a panacea. All it needs to be is better than the Boston cab system (as comments here indicate) which is not a particularly high bar. Heck, they could introduce a service featuring ox-carts and it would be a major improvement on Boston cabs if you could book it and pay via your smart phone.

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Fair point and that gets to

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Fair point and that gets to what I'm saying as well, though. I am in no way debating that Uber provides a good and very needed service. I really like Uber's performance and will use it. My concern is about these legal issues that are slowly coming to a head. And my concern is solely from the perspective of someone who wants to make sure we're not looking past these issues simply because we like the product and hate cabs. I may really like a particular restaurant and its food, but that doesn't mean I don't want its kitchen checked out by food safety inspectors nor want it to treat its employees like Upper Crust did, for example. That's where I'm coming from, fwiw.

That's all very reasonable

That's all very reasonable but it's a given that without the pressure from Uber (or Lyft or whomever), nothing in the Boston taxi industry would ever change. Thus, Uber is a good thing, at least in the short-to-medium term.

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I agree. We'll see how

I agree. We'll see how things shake out. Mayor Walsh said he's going to come out with some proposal re: the cab industry soon that will address some of this. We shall see......

I'll just second what

I'll just second what everyone else is saying. I've never actually taken Uber, but if I were still in Boston, I wouldn't care if they were run by Dick Cheney and Halliburton. I'd rather drink bleach than take another Boston cab.

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echo

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My final straw with Boston cabs was when 5 of them in a row left me standing alone on Copley Square at 2 a.m. because none of them would accept a credit card.

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