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Councilors to see if there's a Hail Mary pass they can toss to save local taxi drivers

Frank Baker

The Boston City Council agreed today to see if there's anything in the city's taxi regulations they can change that would put the shrinking number of medallion owners on a more equal footing with Uber and Lyft drivers and let them continue driving the streets.

Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester) requested a hearing on the issue today. Baker cited the plight of individual medallion owners - rather the large fleet owners who had once managed to corner hundreds of medallions before Uber and Lyft move into Boston.

Baker, who said he has had grown men sit in his office and cry, said he would look at whether there are any provisions in the taxi, or "hackney," regulations that could be loosened, because ride-share drivers, who are regulated by the state rather than the city, do not have as many regulatory burdens.

Baker said the BPD hackney unit now has "hundreds of medallions literally just sitting on a shelf now," because there's just no market for the badges now that their prices have crashed from $300,000 to $600,000 before ride sharing to maybe $35,000 today.

Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, Downtown) agreed it's a shame what's happened to tax drivers, who he said supported the city when the city was in horrible shape 40 or 50 years ago and that it's time for the city to help them.

"During difficult times in our city, taxi drivers were always there for us," he said. "Now that city is booming, it seems there's no place left for our taxi drivers."

Councilor Andrea Campbell (Dorchester) agreed the council should look at how to help "hardworking dedicated residents and folks who are just looking to get ahead."

She added that "this issue frankly is about justice," because so many cab drivers are people of color and immigrants and because the city failed to help them when the ride-share companies first burst on the scene.

"It is really heart wrenching to hear some of their stories," she said. "They bet their lives on this income to get their child through college, to buy a home."

The next step is for a council committee to call a public hearing on the issue, to let city officials, residents and drivers discuss what could be done.

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Comments

I know many will not have any sympathy for taxi drivers, but they were screwed over by the state when Uber and Lyft showed up and were allowed to run illegal taxi fleets by calling them ride sharing. By the time, the state did anything, and it was and still is weak regulation it was too late. Anyone who travels anywhere Downtown or the Back Bay and sees the ride share vehicles parked in no stopping zones, double-parked and ignoring traffic laws should thank the state for the increased traffic.
Add in the horrible driver safety and general non vetting of ride share vehicles and drivers and we get what the state deserves. When all the taxis are gone and Uber runs out of money what happens then?

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Voting closed 65

eScooters/dockless bikes wanna setup shop in Boston? Sorry we are going to force you to geo-tag your products, you have to cap top speeds and they cannot be left in Boston.

Uber and Lyft wanna setup shop in Boston? Come on in, we will only geo-tag around airport/major train stations, speed as much as you like and park whereever you can fit.

We all know Uber is hemorrhaging VC money on the pipe dream that one day AVs will be viable enough that they can just dump the drivers to the curb and people can get chauffeured around by AI in comfort because for some reason, AVs are also going to solve traffic congestion.

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Voting closed 29

If Uber and Lyft drivers are speeding or double parking or blocking intersections there's a perfectly good remedy under existing laws: traffic enforcement. If the BPD can't be bothered to enforce the rules on the books that's an issue for policymakers.

eScooters do need capped speeds because the users are likely going to ride on sidewalks and that presents a hazard to pedestrians. Uber/Lyft drivers generally aren't going to be driving on the sidewalk. Dockless bikes wouldn't be so much of a problem, except that experience in other jurisdictions has shown that their users are often careless about where the bikes are left, and that can prove to be a nuisance which the companies need to address. There's also the issue that the City has some skin in the game with respect to BlueBikes.

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Voting closed 24

But come on, Ubers and Lyfts absolutely drive on sidewalks. And they, along with cars in general, are a far greater hazard to pedestrians. Whens that last time a scooter crashed through a storefront?

The issue with saying BPD should do better enforcement is to say, well yeah duh. But we know it won't happen and they cannot be everywhere, so here we are asking for the same standard to be applied to rideshares as it was to escooters/dockless bikes specifically because the technology exists to do just that.

Uber can know the speeds of drivers and enforce via penalties. They don't. They can geo-tag the countless no parking areas in Boston and penalize for violations. They don't.

We could also have red light and speed cameras but the car lobby will fight tooth and nail against that.

except that experience in other jurisdictions has shown that their users are often careless about

Literally can apply that to countless things with motorists, yet here we are putting up with it.

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Voting closed 12

Several years back, a friend of mine ended up with a serious injury when a cab hit him on the sidewalk. And good luck trying to collect any compensation when the cab/medallion owner carries the bare minimum in liability coverage or is allowed to self-insure. Cabs are just as much a hazard to pedestrians as rideshare vehicles so maybe we should ban them too. They're certainly a far greater hazard than your ordinary private automobile.

If we want Uber and Lyft to penalize drivers for speeding or parking in no-parking areas then we should absolutely require taxis to carry the same sort of technology and be subject to the same sort of penalties. However, geotagging down to the level of no-parking zones won't work in areas with lots of tall buildings; GPS just isn't that reliable.

Like I said, there are already laws on the books which prohibit the behavior by Uber/Lyft/cab drivers you cite. Demand more effective enforcement. With e-scooters and dockless bikes, we'd need to fine users for riding on the sidewalks and potentially impound the vehicles if they're left blocking sidewalks or in other unacceptable places. At least with BlueBikes, the user pays a hefty fine if the bike isn't returned to the dock.

Red light and speed cameras suck because they end up being used to drive revenue for the camera company and governmental jurisdiction more so than to improve safety. You get more rear-end collisions because drivers slam on the brakes to avoid a citation. Cities and towns shorten yellow light durations to the bare minimum (and sometimes less) to drive more violations. Cha Ching.

The whole red light camera industry is rife with corruption and bribery. Go look at what happened in Chicago to see how sleazy the whole business is.

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Voting closed 12

Awful lotta things said here, not so much substance.

Thanks!

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Voting closed 7

Then there’s Lyft for that, too. Don’t like that the taxi cab companies aren’t (no pun intended) faring well? Too bad. It’s a competitive market. And frankly, after years of dealing with sketchy issues from drivers (I.E. “my credit-card scanner isn’t working..pay cash” or ignoring picking up persons of color such as myself), I opted for ride-sharing. Maybe if the cost of a taxi cab medallion wasn’t so artificially-inflated, drivers wouldn’t have to go by the absurd lengths to pay off the cabs.

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Voting closed 68

It is now a competitive market but the hacks are hamstrung by city regulations that the share drivers aren’t.

Relax the regulations.

The medallion price wasn’t artificially inflated, BTW.
That was true supply and demand at work because of the limits on the # of medallions issued.

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Voting closed 15

The limited number of medallions IS an artificial inflation of medallion prices.

Free market supply and demand would mean more people wanting to ride in taxis would push up the fare, which would encourage more people to switch from other jobs to driving taxis.

Kind of like what happens with Uber and Lyft today. Look at all the cars with NYC TLC plates in Boston.

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Voting closed 11

Both Uber and Lyft have quarterly losses in the BILLIONS. Don’t be fooled by corporate doublespeak like ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’ neither company has a plan for profitability or sustainability except to crush any and all competition and figure out how to make profits later.

Do we not want to have anything to fall back on when investors either wisen up, or Lyft and Uber jack prices up massively to offset their massive nearly 20 Billion dollar yearly losses?

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Voting closed 26

Rideshares have 100% innovated on the customer experience. Taxis are free to keep up, but the vast majority can't or choose not to try. I would happily take a taxi that has: an app, no cash necessary, background checks, ratings, the capability to send my location to someone else, etc.

Otherwise, I see no reason to prop up a service that has been IME unreliable and rather sketchy at times. (The sketchiness can happen with Ubers too, but at least when it does you can share your location, have a record of who picked you up in what car, contact the authorities, have tracking of where you were taken, or leave a poor rating.)

If Uber and Lyft tank, I'm sure some other company will fill the gap.

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Voting closed 18

The business model is losing money and the low rates riders enjoy is only a result of Uber taking heavy loses.

They want AVs to one day replace the drivers and keep those low rates. Oh and magically solve congestion.

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Voting closed 14

The core ride-share business is close to profitability. Much of the losses are attributable to growth costs from new market entry and the other businesses (Eats, Freight, AV). Perhaps ride-share costs will need to eventually come up a few percent, but it's misleading to claim that somehow the ride-share business will eventually need to make up the $B+ quarterly shortfall.

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Voting closed 11

The truth about Uber is they have no road to profitability only a Ponzi scheme that they float with borrowed money and money from going public the true road to profitability will be to jack up all the prices on the general public which they undoubtably will have to do if they want to survive by then they’re hoping the cab business is wiped out all the politicians have played ball with them By giving them light regulations not make them get fingerprinted like cabdriverS have to do Every single year at Boston police headquarters And what is most corrupt at all if they have allowed them to Do surge pricing with no oversight at all if they want to make more money searge price who’s watching them that’s stealing but that’s OK because their Uber they have the keys to the city because they bought them from the politicians that’s a fact corruption play the biggest role in Uber‘s growth can anybody really dispute that and let us never forget tricky DeVol Patrick Top of the list Took the power away from local cities and gave it to the state his wife was doing legal work for Uber while he was governor and I believe is still on Uber‘s board

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Voting closed 8

You’re pretty fast to say it’s a competitive market with the deck was loaded against cabdrivers it wasn’t fair and if they could do it the cab driver that can do it to anyone they change existing laws to destroy your business not sure what you do for a living but I could probably happen to you to write all about greed and only a handful of people got super rich even the Uber and lift drivers are slaves don’t make enough money work too hard think about that before you you write off hard working cabdrivers

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Voting closed 10

> double-parked and ignoring traffic laws should thank the state for the increased traffic

taxis are guilty of this as well

> When all the taxis are gone and Uber runs out of money what happens then?

I don't care. Free market will find a way.

Horrible taxi service and broken MBTA are the root cause of these issues. Ride sharing is the symptom.

To be fair, I did have a really good Taxi experience recently (Metro Cab). I needed a van service to logan from Brighton: Uber quote: $80 + unspecified long wait, Taxi: $45 and a curteous and professional driver within 15 minutes. Taxi beat Uber on price and service, I will likely use them again.

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Voting closed 47

I don't care. Free market will find a way.

I wish you I shared your quixotic faith in this neon god you praise.

Capitalism is built around capital. Capital is precisely what Uber and Lyft totally lack. Two companies losing BILLIONS of dollars quarterly with no near term plans to correct things and move towards profitability.

The very identity of the Corporation is founded on the idea of returning value to investors. Sooner or later investors will want the payout they expect (and deserve), and neither company has any plan for that.

I hope your right, but history has not been kind to this kind of business.

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Voting closed 13

Because Uber and Lyft still aren't taxi services. They're not allowed to pick up curbside hails; the rides have to be prearranged, just as livery/black car services had been for many years. It's just that someone(s) figured out a very clever way to match customers with drivers via apps and back-end server infrastructure. And as it turns out, requesting a ride on an app is a better customer experience than standing next to the street with your arm up, hoping a cab stops, and hoping they won't drive away when you tell them you want to go to Mattapan.

They're not popular just because they're less expensive -- the T is usually the least expensive option, after all. The customer experience with Uber and Lyft is generally much better than it is with a cab because the customer rating matters and because the driver can't lie about the credit card reader being broken.

And the state moved slowly to regulate in part because these services are popular with the public. There was, appropriately, little political will to protect a small number of rent-seekers at the expense of a broad swath of the public.

Considering the crazy $#!+ I've seen cabbies do on the road in Downtown and the Back Bay, Uber and Lyft drivers are in no way, shape, or form worse.

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Voting closed 49

I recently found myself in a situation in which Uber/Lyft are way, way worse than taxis. I was dropped off in Allston after 2 AM, with only a regular phone because my smart phone recently died. No way to hail an Uber or Lyft and the taxi industry is dead so there were no cabs on the street or at the cab stand near McDonald's. I was stranded in 15 degree weather, watching cars with pink Lyft lights drive by, until I found a parked cab with a phone number on it so I could order myself a car the old-fashioned way.

Sure, it was an unusual situation, but I wasn't the only one: there was another guy wandering around the same area asking anybody he saw if he could get a ride. Seemed like he'd been doing it since the bars closed. I called him a cab, too.

Not sure what the market-based solution for this is. Occasional late night T service would've fixed it for sure.

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Voting closed 22

I was dropped off in Allston after 2 AM

Dropped off? then you needed a ride. The hell?

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Voting closed 20

I had a ride from Worcester to Boston, but they were not willing to take me all the way to my actual neighborhood. Allston was the closest they would get.

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Voting closed 11

That's what GoGoGrandparent is for. It's a niche business to provide Ubers by phone call.

Another problem is that SuperShuttle and the like no logger serve a lot of outlying areas. And you can't arrange an Uber or Lyft for an early morning flight in advance. You have to take your chances that one will be available.

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Voting closed 10

lol what? uber and lyft both have "schedule a ride" options. I used uber's two weeks ago to make sure I'd have an XL available at 3am for a first-out flight.

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Voting closed 11

As far as I know, the "schedule a ride" feature does not actually schedule a ride in advance with a specific driver. It just starts looking for a driver at that time, the same as if you left it to the last minute. If no drivers are around your distant suburb that morning, you could be out of luck.

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Voting closed 6

Lyft driver here. In the app we can look for scheduled trip requests and sign up for them in advance. They all seem to get snapped up almost immediately after they appear.

Not sure how Uber does it.

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Voting closed 9

You can call them and they will call u a Lyft or Uber. Really for old people that don't have smart phones so a bit of a buggy whip biz, but it'll do the trick.

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Voting closed 18

Add in the horrible driver safety and general non vetting of ride share vehicles and drivers

Uber and Lyft drivers in Massachusetts are subject to a TNC inspection.

Tony over on Belgrade and Centre refused to inspect my car until I vacuumed it... and he is a good friend. I have badge awards for cleanliness and zero complaints in five years. You cannot have an unvacuumed car on your day off in this state.

Non vetting my ass.

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Voting closed 13

so before last year what happened.?
i am sure you have all the proper insurance and liability as well since you are a professional driver.

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Voting closed 7

i am sure you have all the proper insurance and liability as well since you are a professional driver.

Yes.

While not a proper vetting, this little Q+A here is still a little addition to the thorough vetting Uber and Lyft drivers are subject to. Ask a cab driver if they ever had some smartass confront them with "i am sure you have all the proper insurance and liability as well since you are a professional driver".

so before last year what happened.?

I didn't vacuum my car before state inspection. Now with TNC inspection added, I do. Before last year I always vacuumed my car before going online. Now I vacuum my car before going online and before TNC inspection.

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Voting closed 12

there was no real safety checks and poor background checks. It was after all the problems with drivers that Uber started the new program. TAxi drivers are professional drivers have to pass a test and are required to have proper insurance and have twice yearly safety and equipment checks.

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Voting closed 8

there was no real safety checks

And there was me taking my car in once a year for state inspection.

What got into me?

What SAFETY procedures/inspections are required of Boston cabs above the state inspection?

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Voting closed 12

This premise is faulty logic. Taxi drivers were as bad as Uber/Lyft drivers when it came to bad driving, and unprofessionalism. And the State didn't regulate them because they found a niche not covered by the regulations, while also doing a much better jobs than taxis.

. By Bobp on Wed, 02/26/2020 - 3:37pm.

I know many will not have any sympathy for taxi drivers, but they were screwed over by the state when Uber and Lyft showed up and were allowed to run illegal taxi fleets by calling them ride sharing. By the time, the state did anything, and it was and still is weak regulation it was too late. Anyone who travels anywhere Downtown or the Back Bay and sees the ride share vehicles parked in no stopping zones, double-parked and ignoring traffic laws should thank the state for the increased traffic.
Add in the horrible driver safety and general non vetting of ride share vehicles and drivers and we get what the state deserves. When all the taxis are gone and Uber runs out of money what happens then?

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Voting closed 16

all taxis, limo's and any other vehicle for hire are regulated by the state DPU. Uber and Lyft did not do this and the state turned a blind eye. Hello lobbying money. Other states, cities and countries stopped them immediately.

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Voting closed 10

I thought Uber's strategy was to move aggressively into new markets to establish a user base before the regulatory wheels could turn and block them. Customers became accustomed to the superior value prop of Uber before any real regulatory action could take place, so politicians were forced to go easy on Uber for risk of public backlash.

Of course Uber spends on lobbying. It's part of the answer for sure. But I'd bet they invest first in gaining market share and then lobby from a position of strength.

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Voting closed 7

Has the city Council the mayor and the governor all of a sudden developed a conscience Wow what brought that on after six years of screwing cabdrivers Now that we’ve helped destroy the cabbusiness let’s see if we can throw them some crumbs and appear to be doing the right thing for a Change Liberal city like Boston always claiming to help the immigrants what do they think the cabt business is they didn’t have the voting power to vote these idiots out of office politicians knew that so they screwed them

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Voting closed 10

I wonder if the existing regulations governing jitneys would help.
They are on the books and may just need applying/enforcement.

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Voting closed 11

As yes, the newfangled, market disrupting technology... from a century ago!

Literally -- the 19-teens.

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Voting closed 5

Cambridge uses their jitney license law to interfere with all kinds of buses other than the T. Such private shuttles run by colleges and employers, and interstate long-distance buses (which are supposed to be able to operate without local interference under Federal law).

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Voting closed 7

How business owners love the free market until it works, then they go crying to the government to help.

Industries and business models get disrupted -- constantly. If you bank on regulatory capture and or rest on laurels you will go under.

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Voting closed 27

Were never a free market.

Medallions are a way for the government to maintain a quota.

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Voting closed 15

Were a way for the existing players in the market to keep out competition. Almost a century ago, the purpose might have been to avoid chaos and congestion from too many taxis on the road, but the medallion system involved into a scheme where medallion holders could extract rent from drivers and passengers without producing any value for that rent.

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Voting closed 17

Initially, government could have issued 1, 2, 5, whatever year licenses instead of selling perpetual licenses that could then be re-sold on a secondary market. Thereby enabling rent seekers, permanently fucking up the market, and tying their own hands for future adjustments as demand changes: “oh, we couldn’t possibly issue more medallions because that would reduce the value of a medallion and screw the existing owners.”

See also liquor licenses, FCC radio spectrum auctions, etc.

Short-term thinking bites us once again. Color me shocked to discover that selling off the commons rather than renting it out was a bad idea.

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Voting closed 6

That's exactly how Brookline taxi licenses work.

Has anyone looked into how the Brookline taxi industry has dealt with Uber/Lyft competition, and if taxi drivers ended up any better since they hadn't sunk money into medallions?

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Voting closed 11

I have a hunch that many of the suburban TNC drivers saying that disruption is a fact of life, you can't bank on the value of your investments staying high if they're propped up by regulations, etc. feel the exact opposite way when it comes to their property values and real estate development in their neighborhood. Maybe I'm just being uncharitable.

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Voting closed 7

“Yes today has been crazy busy! But everyone paying by card! You pay cash so I can buy gas okay?” That’s.......Not how this is supposed to work. Cabs suck.

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Voting closed 31

I don't have any sympathy for the taxi industry. I'll never use a taxi service again, gone are the days of me waving down a cab and getting passed by empty cars. There were times I'd leave work at an accounting firm and use cab vouchers only to have the drivers drop me off on the main street of of fear I'd rob them in my condo parking lot, and them being fully aware that I called from my company and using a voucher. Countless times I've called a cab, told 15 mins only to call back in 30 and given an attitude and told to wait and sometimes it may never come. How about the cab leaving me and my son, because they didn't want me to use the credit card machine as I had no cash on me. They had a monopoly on the ride game for a long time and were very arrogant about it, if they provided a higher level of customer service they wouldn't have gotten pushed to the brink so easily. So Im sorry that these drivers are having these issues, but given the treatment I've recieved over the years it's tough to reconcile enough sympathy for whats currently happening.

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Voting closed 69

This is really the crux of the situation. A lot of us were burned SO many times by Boston's taxi industry there's just no way to have any sympathy now.

And it wasn't just the big companies. Small companies would also speak rudely on the phone and then never end up sending the cab requested.

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Voting closed 14

horrible driver safety and general non vetting of ride share vehicles and drivers

I'm no huge Uber fan or defender, but this is just not accurate. Given how many Uber/Lyft rides are given every day, their safety is very good and certainly no worse than that of taxis.

(And yes, in the past, taxi drivers have occasionally assaulted people, so that is not something that is "new" and limited to rideshare drivers.)

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Voting closed 47

Rideshare customers can easily mark right on the app if they felt a driver was unsafe. Drivers are surely getting kicked off the platform more easily than taxi drivers get their medallions revoked.

What is the background check protocol for taxi drivers? I know Lyft has rather strict policies. A colleague of mine got rejected for having a many-years-old conviction for simple drug possession.

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Voting closed 33

So the driver who was arrested for rape but the victim didn't want to testify and the case was dismissed is going to be able to drive for Lyft/Uber (because they don't see those reports and it doesn't show up on a CORI). But the BPD can see the actual report and ask the applicant about the incident.

That's the way it used to be done anyway.

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Voting closed 18

Driver was asking where we were going, with the window barely rolled down so my friend leaned in to answer his question of where we were going.

"Brighton Center" came out of her mouth and maybe a second or two later his foot was on the gas, speeding off and of course, running over my roommates foot.

She ended up being ok, never heard back from the Hackney Unit though despite having the medallion number. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But as others have pointed out, its not all for the best, see cycling comments below.

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Voting closed 30

But someone else on the road can't complain if the Uber/Lyft driver did something unsafe to them.

If it was so easy to get drivers kicked off for doing something unsafe, why is there still so much horrible Uber/Lyft driving going on?

If I ever end up taking an Uber or Lyft, as we arrive I'm going to say, "Please pull all the way to the curb in that legal spot." If they head for the nearest bike lane instead, I'll say, "Pull to the curb or you get a 1-star review." But most riders don't do this.

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Voting closed 10

As a daily cyclist, things are much worse with Lyft/Uber drivers. They spend most of their ride looking at their phone (not the road) since many of them don't know the city the way a seasoned Taxi driver will and the apps demand attention.

They stay double parked for long periods as they putz with their phones waiting for the next job or a passenger. Often they double park in the worst spots like right at the intersection.

They are even more likely to do sketchy things like abruptly swing across lanes or make a mid-street U-turn when they get lost. (You're not going to get 5-stars if you circle the block.)

Taxi drivers suck too, no question. But the roads are definitely less safe now that everyone with a Honda Civic and a smart phone can work as a professional driver. Enforcement is sorely lacking.

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Voting closed 44

I think that Uber drivers today suck as bad as taxi drivers used to.

In my view, the difference is that taxis are more obvious to the eye, so I as a cyclist know to watch and expect aggressive dangerous driving. Uber drivers are driving grey Priuses and white crossovers just like my neighbors do, so I don't ID them as overly aggressive a priori.

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Voting closed 18

There are now 100x the number of ride share drivers. So instead of dodging a single cabbie darting for a fare, now I need to dodge three lost Ubers driver weaving while they try to zoom in on the map.

You can tell an Uber/Lyft because they are required to have the logos in their windows. I spend a lot of time looking at those logos while I ride around them standing in the bike lanes.

Note, I'm not opposed to Lyft/Uber but more roadway enforcement is needed.

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Voting closed 23

I'm not in the heart of the city, so I defer to those who are. I agree with the anon above who said it's just harder to tell in advance who is likely to do something stupid/dangerous. If I see an Uber or Lyft sign, I treat them as I would a taxi: they will be more aggressive than the average bear and should be kept at bay.

I think in general the ride share cars are just more of a nuisance to bikers and other drivers (pulling over at random, long waits at the curb etc) simply because there are more of them than there ever was in the pre-Uber days. I would strongly support efforts to create designated ride share pick-up areas.

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Voting closed 18

Two big things were better about taxis:

1) they all looked like taxis. No little U or pink logo or whatever. A taxi was a taxi. I could assume they would make a turn without warning, pull to the curb without signaling and do other stupid stuff. Much easier to spot them than random cars with lyft/uber tags.

2) When they did something stupid, I could call the hack unit in the town in question and file a report. And it would be acted upon! Lyft/Uber could not give two shits about how their drivers behave towards the rest of the traveling public.

Also, taxicab drivers were full-time drivers, and had an idea where they were going. It seems like half the Uber/Lyft drivers are driving their first shift in the area, and in the wrong lane, darting from one side of the road to the other, eyes glued to their iPhone. At least cabbies usually knew where they were going without a screen glowing in their face.

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Voting closed 24

Medallion owners bought into a protection racket.

The protection racket has been (mostly) destroyed.

Normally I would have zero sympathy for someone who made his living off of a protection racket once the racket is put out of business, but in this case the racket was run by the government, whose imprimatur might have encouraged otherwise reasonable, honorable people who wouldn't normally deal with a protection racket to buy into it.

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Voting closed 37

The people who didn't want the the city to expand the number of medallions years ago are the same people now complaining they overpaid!

The only reason why the city didn't increase the number of medallions in the first place is because medallion owners didn't want the competition. The high price of a medallion was feature, not a bug.

Oh, and these are the same people who lobbied to keep their liability insurance pathetically low so they could just walk away if a passenger got hurt.

The whole system is full of scumbags at every level. It's hard to feel much sympathy for anyone.

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Voting closed 48

Did someone fart right before that photo was taken?

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Voting closed 10

If the price of a medallion has really dropped to roughly the price of the vehicle, then maybe we can see taxi driving becoming viable again. When the medallions were bid up to where only corporations could finance them, the drivers became sharecroppers. Back in the day, ITOA Tommy could own a cab and medallion, work reasonable hours, and make an OK living.

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Voting closed 24

These guys/gals bought the medallions at inflated prices, often by taking out effectively a mortgage. So they now are stuck with the high monthly payments of their medallion mortgage, which makes it difficult to make a living in the Uber era. Short of a buyout, which I do not support, I'm not sure what the city can do to make them profitable again.

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Voting closed 12

They took their money for something that lost its value. Where does the medallion money go? While investments are tricky and unprotected usually, the government MADE you buy one to enter the industry.

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Voting closed 13

Like liquor licenses (another screwed up mess) the city issued medallions at a reasonable cost and then their value shot up in the secondary market. The city didn't take big bucks for these medallions.

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Voting closed 26

christ, at this point, the city should just compensate sole-operators for the difference (I know, I know, those guys chose to mortgage their houses, whatever, one man shops account for like 10% of the actual medallions) and repossess all the medallions, then reissue them with new rules they can't be bought and sold.

the city allowing CITY LICENSES to be passed around on a secondary market like they're actual assets, not a certification that somebody has met regulations and is allowed to do something, is soooo messed up and no normal cities do this. it pretty much CREATES corporate rentseeking oligarchs (look at all the liquor licenses flowing towards the seaport and neighborhood bars closing and unable to be opened). protectionist and stupid. imagine if any other professional license was like this. somebody graduates beauty school but they can't afford a hairdressing license on the secondary market so their only choice is to go work for MegaMartCuts who owns 400 licenses and hands them out for the day for 40% of your cut. INSANE.

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Voting closed 12

Sorry, I have very little sympathy for the taxi drivers, especially those who refused to accept credit cards or made it almost impossible to use cc's, despite city mandates that they do so. Naturally, someone saw the dysfunction and built a better mousetrap. Now that the medallions are affordable, the city should require only the same hiring standards as Uber and Lyft then set the city mileage rate to be comparable in price. The ITOA and what's left of the large taxi firms could easily come up with an app that's competitive if rates and customer service are similar to the ride shares. It's considerate of Councilor Baker to seek a solution but the free market will take care of it, if allowed.

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Voting closed 27

Taxis now have an inferior product. I feel for the people who bought inflated medallions, but it's true in any industry that innovation and progress make other services/methods obsolete. If taxis had an app that worked pretty much everywhere in the US, quoted the price before you summoned it, made one show up with a license plate and driver photo, tracked its location, had an emergency button if you feel unsafe in the vehicle, and accepted payment from your device, I'm sure people would use it.

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Voting closed 27

Remember that drivers are often Hatian immigrants who don't own anything, and don't always get a cut of credit card fares (their story anyway). And if the machine breaks, the owner of the cab didn't always rush to get it fixed.

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Voting closed 10

Are heading over to Uber/Lyft. Tons of Haitian former cab drivers doing this.

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Voting closed 23

There are already at least 2 taxi apps, Arro and Curb. They both have pretty much all the features you listed and have been available for years. Nobody uses them because there aren't enough taxis left on the streets; if you're already using a phone to hail a ride, Uber or Lyft will show you more cars closer to you than any of the taxi apps.

This is a result of how easy it is to become a ride-share driver and how few restrictions there are on where ride-share drivers can pick people up. As noted elsewhere, taxis can only pick up passengers in their medallion's town of issue. Ride-share drivers can live in Rhode Island and spend all day driving all over the Boston area, making money all the way. It's not a level playing field.

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Voting closed 15

The playing field could be leveled, but more importantly, wouldn't it be common sense to require all Uber/Lyft vehicles in Massachusetts to display MA number plates, pay MA excise and registration fees, and have drivers licensed by the Commonwealth? That seems like an easy answer, yet there are scads of Rhode Island, Connecticut and even New York plates driving around (and adding to congestion on the roads when they come in and out). Want to drive a commercial vehicle in Massachusetts? Register it in Massachusetts. Seems simple enough to me.

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Voting closed 17

What happens when you want to take an Uber from Providence across the state line? Do they have to dump you at the edge of Pawtucket, so you can walk across to South Attleboro to get a Massachusetts Uber?

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Voting closed 7

It was pretty similar where you could hail, pay for and track your taxi. I actually used them quite often about five or six years ago. But it was absorbed by a German company called MyTaxi and ceased operations in Boston.

I have used Lyft a couple of times when the T has a meltdown or I have too many parcels to carry, but generally I walk or take the T whenever possible.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hailo

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Voting closed 9

Over the last 5 years I have ever had a taxi that didnt take credit cards.

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Voting closed 10

I also haven't had a taxi driver in more than five years that didn't take credit cards.

But that's because I haven't taken a taxi in more than five years. Thank God.

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Voting closed 23

And not tell me until we reached the end of the ride. One then had the chutzpah to complain when I didn't tip him after I told him I wasn't sure I had enough cash.

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Voting closed 12

You just have to get through the part where they tell you they don't, or its broken, or whatever first. Once you reveal that you know the laws requiring it in Boston though, suddenly it's magically working.

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Voting closed 14

That I guess the state would have to do - stop the idiocy of not allowing taxis to pick up fares outside the town/city where they're registered. It's outrageous (not to mention a waste of fossil fuel) that if a Boston cab drops off a fare in Wellesley, they can't pick up anyone until they cross the Boston border. Registrations should be statewide, and calls should be able to reach the nearest taxi to the rider.

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Voting closed 36

That would require a level of coordination that Mass legislators could never do.

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Voting closed 8

A taxi can pick up a fare in a different municipality -- if the ride is prearranged, just as with Uber and Lyft. They're not allowed to pick up street hails or at a cab stand. And if memory serves, this requirement was driven by Boston cabbies who didn't want the competition from cabs registered in other municipalities where the supply of medallions was less constrained.

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Voting closed 10

The idea that Uber/Lyft are "prearranged" because you tapped a button on a phone to hail it instead of flagging one down or walking up to one at a cab stand is an absurd technicality, and everybody knows it. The features for actually arranging rides in advance are rarely used, which is why both companies used that as an initial Trojan horse business model to get around taxi regulations but moved away from it once they got users. These are ride-hailing companies.

I could easily say that when I wave at a cab and they start to pull towards me, we've "prearranged" for them to drive me somewhere, if just by a few seconds. But that would be silly, right?

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Voting closed 7

... add to the long list of why I hate Uber and Lyft.

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Voting closed 14

Don't forget why Uber/Lyft found their niche:
-A horrible, if not corrupt regulation scheme. Remember the fiasco just trying to get taxi's to accept credit cards?
-Horribly run, and likely corrupt taxi companies.
- Taxi drivers who don't know their way around (at Least Uber users GPS) , don't speak English, and talked constantly on their phones.
-Taxi's were extremely hard to find and undependable, especially if you were not near a major thoroughfare or taxi stand.
- My favorite example of this is calling dispatch on a rainy saturday night and they.... just.... didn't... answer. My other favorite example was calling for an airport ride at 5am, dispatcher tells me 10 minutes, and 3 minutes later an irate cabbie is beeping angrily outside my door.

Where taxi's still are the best:
- If you're near a taxi stand. Why call an Uber if you know there is a taxi on the corner?
- Slightly more likely to know where they are going.

Uber/Lyft certainly are not perfect. But to me, Councilors Flynn and Campbell seem to be barking up the wrong tree on this one. if they want taxi's to work better, have them be better.

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Voting closed 24

Where taxi's still are the best:
- If you're near a taxi stand. Why call an Uber if you know there is a taxi on the corner?

Not really. You gave several very good reasons why they're not the best, earlier in your post. Taxi stands are slightly more convenient sometimes (only when the uber/lyft wait is a long time), but their existence does not outweigh all the reasons why rideshares are better, as you desribed.

- Slightly more likely to know where they are going.

You'd just gotten finished citing "Taxi drivers who don't know their way around." and that uber/lyft use GPS.

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Voting closed 12

In the end it all comes down to money and convenience. As a regular almost daily Uber/lyft user I choose to take a cab when Uber/lyft prices surge 2-3x the regular rate because it’s holiday, your in the middle of no where, or simply cause it’s raining or snowing. Make it known that the taxi rate is cheaper than Uber and people will start hailing taxis again.

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Voting closed 8

And the increased traffic & congestion they bring to the city, I remember being denied fare after fare after fare after from Boston cabbies who wouldn't go to Dorchester. A cabbie once stopped short of my destination and asked my 3 year old and I to walk the rest of the way. A little competition is good. They don't refuse my fare anymore.

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Voting closed 32

After years of getting screwed by taxi drivers to go from MGH to Eastie, those guys can go rot in a gutter.

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Voting closed 29

The taxi industry was broken before rideshares became a thing. Cities (all cities) limiting medallions and (surprise) driving the cost so high regular people can't buy them anymore. Of course limiting medallions at the request of the industry, who wants fewer taxis on the street to gain more profit.

Then there is the poor taxi behavior. We all have stories of drivers refusing to take us to our destination (illegally), taking the long way to get more money from the fare, and poor rides in general. How many times I called and waited an hour plus for a cab to come, only to drive by hotel cab stands with 20 cabs doing nothing, but they wanted to wait for a 'better' fare from a hotel.

The internet comes along and the industry rests on its laurels. The larger companies could have made an uber-type ad for the taxi industry, but they didn't. They could have put aside their differences, worked together and tried to save their industry, but they didn't.

Then ride shares came here. They'll be at your door in minutes with an app showing time and routes. Allowing anyone to drive means the industry itself can deal with high demand as more individuals can get in their card and work an hour or two when there is high demand.

And still the taxi industry did nothing to change themselves. The only did what any business did - lobby lawmakers to kill the competition. Rideshare has it's own problems - not vetting drivers, not handling crime well (oftne not cooperating with police). And the parent companies are still losing money; the whole industry could collapse at any time. Meanwhile it still takes 40 minutes for a cab to show up at my home, and I'll be darned if I can see a cab on the streets to flag down these days.

So where do we go from here? Do we owe our tax dollars to help out the little guy who we screwed over by inflating the price of medallions? Do we take the $7 mil unspent fee rideshare people have been paying to 'help' the taxi industry and buy back medallions and just let rideshares be our taxis?

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Voting closed 26

... in one way or another. Still can't bring myself to use Uber or Lyft ... yet.

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Voting closed 8

Since the medallions are no longer the limiting factor, MAKE THEM WIDELY AVAILABLE.

Then, MAKE EVERY "RIDESHARE" DRIVER HAVE ONE AS A LICENSE REQUIREMENT.

Radical, I know...but you want to put them all on the same footing. Now that the scab/pirate market has done what you should have been doing all along, decommoditizing the medallions, you can make them mandatory for every driver and making them unlimited in supply. Make them cost something like $35,000 over 10 years or something ($3500/year payable in installments, for 10 years. After 10 years, no more fees, thanks for being a long-term cabbie). It'd be a money maker for the city and pay for itself between regulatory fees and moving violations for every Uber/Lyft driver without one. The same way "short term rentals" have to register with the city, the "ride share drivers" should too.

If you'd done this 5 years ago, the fat cat medallion owners would have cried about "lost value" but you've let the "market" handle that, haven't you...pressures off of you.

Think about it...Uber/Lyft in order to keep drivers in Boston would have to pay them more or buy their "medallion license" for them.

Instead, we've let Uber/Lyft ignore the hackney laws because they're not "taxis" and de-regulate an entire industry outside of our control, losing public safety, accountability, and revenue in the process and ravage the ones trying to play by the rules.

License all livery drivers, regardless of which app (or no app) they use and let them all play on an even playing field while contributing back to the city in the form of fees and regulated behavior.

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Voting closed 11

A lot of Uber/Lyft drivers are part time. Having to buy a $35000 medallion would exclude them from the market. Basically only full-timers would be able to afford that and that is not the model that is currently in place.

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Voting closed 18

Then they will have the opportunity to learn the roads and not be in the wrong lane the whole time or cutting across roads at the last minute, etc.

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Voting closed 12

they won't go for $35K. Have a reasonable fee that's the same for everyone and goes toward funding public transit.

There are good and bad things about both cabs and rideshares. And I've had some great conversations with drivers of both. But with Lyft/Uber, I definitely appreciate knowing how much I'll pay before getting into the car (and therefore no running up the far) and not having to worry about having enough cash.

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Voting closed 12

As of now, there are less than 3800 registered licensed taxis in Massachusetts and more than 170,000 Uber/Lift Rideshare vehicles, I believe they should cap the number of Rideshares Vehicles to reduce traffic jam, only MA cars, and MA drivers should operate in MA, Taxis and Rideshare cars should charge the same rate, Taxis should have Credit Card Machines in their cars, all Taxis should have a Booking APP.

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Voting closed 8

This.

I drive for Uber & Lyft (in an NH-registered car too! Take that, Ari!) largely as a way to offset the cost of my commute into Boston. A few hours here and there to pay for parking on days I need to drive in to the office.

The original intent of Uber and Lyft was not for anyone to make it a full-time job. That's why it's called ride-sharing. It was supposed to be random people going somewhere and offering a ride to a stranger along the way. All the new state regulations and requirements are already making that model difficult enough for part-time drivers. If you start requiring they buy medallions, that would essentially kick off any part-time drivers, which I guarantee would significantly impact driver availability at peak times!

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Voting closed 12

$35000/10 years is not even $300/mo. Uber and Lyft could pick it up. Or pay their drivers fairly.

The driver commuting to Boston and then driving around giving rides for a few hours as a side gig to offset their costs is the exception not the rule. Additionally, anyone not driving hardcore probably isn't even actually making money overall given tole on the car, gas wasted deadheading, time lost, etc.

Also, there was nothing about the number I stated that was market tested or anything else. It was just a number. Arguing against it is entirely besides the point of the post.

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Voting closed 10

The one main problem is the safety that nobody realizes. Taxi cabs are far safer than the ubers and lyft ..when UBER/LYFT gets a call they are under great pressure to arrive on time. this makes for accidents and dangerous situations. however, a taxi is not going anywhere specific, if he has nobody in the car he is just riding along looking for a pick-up. If there is a passenger in the car the driver really doesn't care how long it takes because after driving to passengers destination, he's going to turn around and possibly go back where he came from or just drive any were...you can see this in another way; when a person is driving without an appoint and when he is driving with an appointment .....Also if insurance companies would take this into consideration taxi rates would be cheaper to be passed on to passengers

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Voting closed 9

when UBER/LYFT gets a call they are under great pressure to arrive on time.

I have been driving for five years and have never felt ANY pressure to arrive on time other than common courtesy.

Have I been driving five years pressure-free because I am not aware of something that you are aware of?

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Voting closed 12

I just thought of this...

Let's say I am 5 minutes late for picking up my Uber client. The client gets all huffy and cancels.

10 bucks for me!

More often than not, that 10 bucks is more than I would have made if I had driven like a madman to arrive on time.

Why would I break laws to get there faster when there is more incentive to obey laws and possibly make money just for almost showing up?

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Voting closed 8

My husband recently died. I am in my 50s and don't drive. I go to work in town every day from Forest Hills to North Station. I know the taxis are always there for me at Foest Hills and am a regular customer on the weekends to do chores when the buses suck especially on Sundays. I've got to know those cab drivers like family and they know me. I know their struggle and tip each one good when my budget allows. Here's to Phillip, Claude. Felix and the gang. They are such kind gentlemen and have given me nonstop condolences for my loss. Keep those guys going strong for their families that they support and their BPD registration stickers next to my head in the passenger window!! ALWAYS there when I need them without even having to use my phone!!

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Voting closed 27

...Boston's taxi drivers turn their lonely eyes to you.

Freddie was the stout defender of hackneys (and hacks, whether people or methods.) Which might have explained why every cab in Boston featured a LANGONE sticker when he was city councilor.

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Voting closed 9

maybe you guys don't drive wild but you are admitting that there are drivers from uber and lyft who are driving like mad to be on time

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Voting closed 7