More than a hundred taxi drivers gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall today to protest phone app ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, and to urge state lawmakers to stiffen regulation of these companies.
The drivers -- clad in matching red shirts -- said the services are not only unsafe, but benefit from an unfair competitive advantage over taxi drivers who must undergo stricter background checks and comply with more regulations.
Los Angeles council members Paul Koretz and Gil Cedillo, joined with the group to call on lawmakers to adopt AB 612, a state bill that would require rideshare services to comply with the same regulations now imposed on taxis.
Cedillo called the proposed regulation "common sense," while Koretz, who introduced a resolution in council to support the bill, said that without such regulation, "these ridesharing services should not be allowed to operate on our streets."
Koretz said regulation recently adopted by the state's Public Utilities Commission for the services are "watered-down" and enforcement is lax. Recent media reports indicate background checks were unable to turn up the criminal records of some Uber drivers, he said.
Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend issued a response saying the company offers the "safest ride on the road and is committed to delivering convenient, safe and reliable transportation options."
The proposed state legislation is "about protecting entrenched Sacramento special interests from competition," according to Behrend.
"While Uber is focused on offering a safe, convenient and reliable transportation alternative, Big Taxi is choosing to spread misinformation and line their pockets," Behrend said.
AB 612 will be next be discussed at a Senate committee meeting on June 17. Another bill, AB 2293 that deals with insurance regulations and ridesharing, will also be heard.
KCET Staff contributed to this report.