BOSTON (Legal Newsline)
– With technology giving rise to ride-sharing services like Uber, it means states have had to draft
new legislation in order to accommodate such a unique business model.
However, Malden Transportation Inc. and other cab companies in Massachusetts are not happy with what they seek, claiming Uber is being allowed by the state itself to skirt the law and operate
outside the boundaries of ordinances that apply to taxis and limos. As a
result, 33 cab companies filed a lawsuit against Uber and the state of
Massachusetts in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Dec. 16.
According to a brief
filed by the Attorney General Maura Healey's office, Uber is regulated by the state while taxicabs are regulated by the
cities and towns in Massachusetts. Healey is seeking dismissal of the case.
While that might sound unfair under the
Equal Protections Clause and appear to give the 33 cab companies a case against
both the state and Uber, the regulations both cab companies and Uber have to
follow, when compared side-by-side, are different.
to the brief, Uber is not allowed to use taxi stands nor are its drivers allowed
to drive around looking for passengers, even though taxis are allowed to do so.
Instead, Uber is known as a Transportation Network Company (TNC).
driver’s first interaction with a passenger is not when the passenger enters
that driver’s vehicle, but before that, when a prospective consumer uses the
Uber app on his or her smartphone to get a ride. The driver and passenger then
meet up face-to-face at a predetermined location. Unlike taxis, the Uber app shows who the driver is, what the license place of the driver’s car
is, and what the fare will be before the car even arrives.
working for Uber, while subject to background checks, are allowed to use their
own cars. However, they must also have a decal displayed on their personal
vehicles while on duty. In contrast to this, taxis are subject to more
regulations depending on the city or town in charge of regulating them; and all
taxi drivers must have a taxi medallion. Taxis must also have partitions
between the driver and passenger as well as a panic button for the passenger.
big point of contention in the lawsuit is Massachusetts filing a piece of
legislation to govern Uber, known as Chapter 187. According to the brief, this
regulation is supposed to only pertain to TNCs such as Uber. However, the cab
companies want TNCs to abide by the laws already in place for taxis and other
transportation services such as limousines.
While limos are mentioned in the
brief as being a vehicle that is locally regulated but also pre-hired like
the drivers working for Uber, limo companies were not mentioned or involved in
the lawsuit involving the cab companies.
According to the brief, if
Chapter 187 were nullified and Uber was forced to abide by the various
regulations enforced by taxis, Uber drivers would need taxi medallions in order
to continue working. This would cause a shortage of medallions able to be
allocated, and a possibility of no taxi medallions left for various periods of