Since Uber launched locally, cab operators have complained that it creates unfair competition because it dispatches cars that are not regulated the way taxis are. And earlier this month, the state ordered Uber to shut down in Massachusetts, saying officials had not approved its system for calculating fares.
State officials reversed the ban Wednesday, allowing Uber to continue operating here, but cabbies are not giving up the fight.
"Uber exploited a loophole in the law," said Oleg Uritsky, who runs 45 cabs in Boston and is a spokesman for city taxi fleet owners. "Taxicabs everywhere are heavily, heavily regulated for public safety."
Uritsky and other cab operators complain that unlike their taxis, the cars hired via the app are not subject to regular city safety inspections and do not have to comply with fuel-efficiency regulations or emissions standards. The cab operators plan to make their case to Boston officials in the near future.
As is often the case, the regulation can be seen less as protecting public safety and more as protecting existing businesses against competition with more advanced technology. It's not the public that winds up benefiting from the regulation but the existing businesses who capture the regulators to advance their own business interests. Why not allow consumers a choice between the more heavily regulated taxis and the less heavily regulated Uber cars, which are subject to the same CAFE standards and emissions and safety inspections as any other car on the road in Massachusetts?