Boston cab owners sue over Uber again

The owners of 462 Boston medallion cabs yesterday sued Uber for what they say are the profits Uber cost them through unfair competition over a five-year period.

The suit comes days after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by an association of Boston medallion owners against the state's new regulations that allow Uber, Lyft and other "transportation network companies" to operate, and a month after the judge dismissed the owners' suit against the city of Boston over the way it did or didn't regulate the companies.

The latest suit, filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, names only Uber - and is limited to damages for the period between 2011, when Uber entered the Boston market and Aug. 4 of last year - the day before Gov. Baker signed a law removing Uber and similar companies from local control.

The suit alleges that by evading city taxi regulations - which set minimum standards for everything from the condition of cars and insurance to a requirement to serve people with disabilities - Uber put the medallion owners at an illegal disadvantage.

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Comments

hmmm

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Can I sue them for the number of times I was denied a ride home, or the amounts I was extorted just so they would go through the tunnel?

It's awesome watching rent-seekers hit their demise and play the victim. YOU brought this upon yourselves by having an awful product for years and years.

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I find the part about "condition" hilarious

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Because despite these "taxi regulations" I've never been in a cab that doesn't ride like it's one pothole away from falling apart. The interiors are always dirty. I avoid them. In contrast, Uber cars have always been clean, neat, and very well taken care of.

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Not being snarky: When was the last time you rode a Boston cab?

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A real Boston cab, one licensed by the city of Boston, not some Brookline or Cambridge or Name-Your-Town cab?

Because one of the last good things Menino's cab czar (the guy who mysteriously, poof, just disappeared) did was to force cab owners to upgrade their fleets to newer cars (he also tried to get them to buy a certain percentage of hybrids, but a judge ruled against that). So you're not going to see a Boston medallion on a ancient former police-cruiser Crown Vic with shocks that stopped working in 1998 (if you're feeling nostalgic for those, though, take a trip to the Star Market on Hyde Park Avenue in Hyde Park - next to which a Brookline cab company has its garage).

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FYI, all the companies listed

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FYI, all the companies listed in the complaint as plaintiffs are all the holding companies used by EJT, aka Boston Cab Garage management to run their taxi empire.

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Agreed that Metro cab and

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Agreed that Metro cab and most of the other ones have improved their fleet in recent years but not all Boston cabs are equal and when I lived in East Boston Tunnel taxi was often the only option and they were pretty much pulled from the scrap heap and used as taxis.

But yes to be fair the majority of Boston based taxis are generally clean... but hardly a comfortable ride.

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Yes but

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the damage to the reputation is done. Even if Boston-medallioned cabs are fabulous now, I will always remember the time when my friend and I (two 18 year old female freshman) got diverted two miles out of our way by a cabbie trying to run up the meter and thought we were being abducted. Or the time when I went to hail a cab to the train station for Christmas break with all my luggage and saw two cabbies outside of Warren Towers start screaming at each other, waving fists, and pounding on each other's hoods over a fellow student's airport fare. Or the time my now-husband got injured and we needed to take him to urgent care, but the cab did not come so we had to limp him off to the T stop. Or the other time my husband was taking a client somewhere for work in a cab, and the cabbie proceeded to spend the entire time driving erratically while arguing with his bookie on his Bluetooth headseat.

I'm glad whenever a company improves the situation for their customers, but it does take time for customers to come back, especially if their experience was frightening.

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I actually always prefer the

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I actually always prefer the crown vics to the camrys Boston cabs use. They usually all smell (I tend to think that this has more to do with the driver than the car), and have beat up shocks, but at the least the crown vics are roomy.

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Give it up

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You monopolistic, rent seeking bastards.

Evolve or die. And yes that means getting a cab to me on time, that knows how to get me from a-b, and isn't chatting up a storm to someone halfway across the world while barely missing cyclists.

I keep having to laugh that they're probably past the point of no return, because they had the industry and regulation cornered for so long, they had the ability to undercut Uber in service and quality. They refused.

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This is a very weak legal theory at best.

This is a very weak legal theory at best. Typically, in order to have standing under 93A, you need to have engaged with the business that is alleged to have committed the unfair and deceptive practices. That is not the case here. They chose 93A, I am guessing, because there is probably not a private right of action to enforce the city hackney regulations cited throughout the complaint.

There will almost assuredly be a motion to dismiss this complaint for lack of standing and failure to state a claim.

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It's a weak legal theory

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It's a weak legal theory because at this point they're essentially throwing darts at a wall to see what sticks.

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You lost, get over it.

Hopefully this judge issues a motion for summary judgment with prejudice and enjoins the parties from litigating this matter again.

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goodbye taxis

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Just a warning again. Uber and Lyft can charge whatever they like, have minimal government oversight and are not profitable. Yes, some cab drivers are awful, but complain to the hackney division. It works they are more than happy to yank bad drivers. Uber and Lyft are unfair competition because they provide the same service with much less burden of regulation. Just because Uber lobbied hard and got the legislature to give them a free ride doesn’t make it less wrong. BTW Uber is not a strong company. Had to sell off its China rights and is still being sued all over the EU. Her in the US they have not turned a profit and lost a billion plus last year. Lyft is also still not profitable. So either is not a lock for the long term

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Buying time

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Their model isn't employing people long term, but selling and allocating timeshares in self driving cars.

Either way, once self driving cars hit the market Taxis are done anyways. There's no way around it, and its coming much quicker than people expected.

Uber and car services also fell under Livery regulations and new regulations going forward because of their unique bussiness model.

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self driving?

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Uber X was Livery hence they picked up at the airport. the rest were under no regulation. People have been doing what Uber has forever. Selling rides in private vehicles without a license. Gypsy cabs. I know in the 1980's it was a profitable business shuttling people engage din not so legal business around. The technology part is new as is someone organizing it. And self driving please would you trust your GPS to get you from Back bay to Logan in a safe and timely manner?

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self driving please would you

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self driving please would you trust your GPS to get you from Back bay to Logan in a safe and timely manner?

Yes.

And once everyone sees the positives vastly outweigh the negatives I expect I won't be in any type of minority.

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count me out

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Technology would have to grow by leaps from today in order for it to be remotely safe never mind efficient

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For what it's worth

Uber and Lyft are unfair competition because they provide the same service

As an Eastie resident, they don't. Uber and Lyft will actually bring me home.

In all seriousness though, you're probably right as far as the sustainability of those individual companies go, at least as-is. But that speaks to the bigger problem-instead of finding a way to reinvent the industry and clean up their image, taxi drivers/companies are out there pissing and moaning about ride hailing services while providing the same trash service (speaking broadly, I've had some good drivers in the city myself) that dug them into this hole to begin with. If Uber and Lyft go under (or merge, as I expect to happen either due to financials or when driverless cars become a thing), someone else will be there to find another way around the regulation and take their place.

Point blank: Uber and Lyft provide better service than many cab companies on many levels, and not just in Boston. That is all consumers who use their services care about.

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Taxi Medallion Lender Medallion Financial (MFIN)

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If you want to see the creative destruction of capitalism at work, check out the financials and Yahoo message boards of taxi medallion lender Medallion Financial. Their bad loan % for medallion loans has gone from near 0 to 20+% over the past 18 months.

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Rather than sue, these cab

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Rather than sue, these cab companies should just start doing what Uber does. It seems like rather than actually compete and make their service better, they just want a government enforced monopoly that allows them to continue to screw customers.

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crybabies

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I'll be the first to defend the "parts don't equal the whole" argument. I've had some awesome, stand up cab drivers and some horrifically bad Uber and Lyft drivers. You know what, though? The people have spoken on what they want. Failure to adapt your business model and provide decent service should not be protected from competition. The taxi system is broken. I hope the good guys can jump on the new wave while the whiners keep bitching.

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Cabs are a service often provided poorly

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I stopped using Boston Cab on the day I was told I could not request a cab to a downtown location. Blew me away that the dispatcher refused to send out a cab. So I stuck with Metro. But a Metro cab still has advertisements that I have to turn off, sometimes not easily figured out. The cabs themselves are clearly utilitarian without much concern for comfort. Finally I always had to wait a minimum of 20 minutes, sometimes more such as Dorchester locations. There are also the drivers who purposely go out of their way to increase the charge.

What I want from a cab is the following: Waits less than 20 minutes. Turn off the advertisements. Make the cab appear to be more than just a steel and plastic. Make it a little more comfortable. Don't play games with extending routes.

Notice I didn't mention charge less. Give me a decent service and I will pay a higher rate. But if I am expected to pay more for less I'll pass. That is the advantage of a free market: I get to choose where to shop or whom to hire.

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Terrible service = terrible results (and required NY comparison)

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So, by last September, Boston cabs had lost 52% of their business. And they've probably lost even more over the past few months.

I read earlier this week that NY's yellow cabs have seen about a 27% ridership decline over the same years. But many articles fail to mention that the newer green cabs are also doing 40-50k metered rides a day. Thus the total decline seen by "real cabs" in New York is more like 18-20%, all while ride-hailing firms (including Gett, Juno, and Via) have greatly expanded the transportation-on-demand market.

NYC's total market size has increased by well over 100k rides per day, possibly even 200k. It would be interesting to compute and compare similar numbers for metro Boston, but then you would basically need cab ridership data from every municipality inside 128.

I still use cabs exclusively in NY, but switched to Lyft in Boston (and Cambridge and Somerville). Driver, vehicle, and ride quality in the Boston area are just too inconsistent. The lack of a well-regulated regional cab system was the Achilles' heel of the taxi industry that no one wanted to fix.

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Interesting

I still use cabs exclusively in NY

I do as well, and I'm glad to see someone else's take on this. I've given both Uber and Lyft a shot in NYC, but have never had great experiences. Yet my cab rides are always great, and somehow often end up cheaper. I haven't given any of the other alternative services a shot there yet, but cabs have honestly never given me a real reason to stray–I only even tried other services because of my comparative experiences in Boston and San Francisco, but came to the conclusion that cabs were a better option there very quickly.

You'd think Boston cabs could maybe learn something from them.

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Hey Cabbies

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Change your ways. The days of saying when we get there, when somebodys available, when i get someone in the area days are over.
Time to realize you got real competition now.
Get it or move along

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