SF cab drivers upset over unregulated car services

San Francisco cab drivers
March 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Cab drivers packed a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board meeting on Tuesday. They say their incomes are being hurt by the unregulated car services springing up in the city, and they do not want the city to put any more taxis on the street, though the MTA thinks there is a need for more.

Honking in solidarity, San Francisco cab drivers circled City Hall while inside, cabbies packed an SFMTA board meeting. The agenda originally included discussion about approving a few hundred more cabs on San Francisco streets, but that item was put off until April.

Still, that's what angry drivers came to talk about. They say they can't get enough work as it is. And their primary complaint is with the unregulated car service and ridesharing apps popping up across the Bay Area.

"They are going to drive everybody into the ground," said one cab driver.

You might have seen the pink mustaches on cars around the city. Those are taxi alternatives from a company called Lyft. There is also Uber and Sidecar. They are so far unregulated and therefore spared dues and fees paid by cabs.

The California Public Utilities Commission is deciding if they can be regulated, and if so, by whom. Taxi drivers want the MTA to wait until after that decision, before deciding about more cabs.

"I can't see how you can go forward at this point with any kind of coherent decision until we know what's going to happen with Uber and SideCar and Lyft," said Mark Gruberg from United Taxicab Workers union.

The MTA says even with the unregulated services, it appears there is a need for more cabs.

"Based on anecdotal information from our customers from around the city, we understand that there is a need for more taxi service, more taxicabs on city streets to make sure that we provide necessary service," said Paul Rose from the SFMTA.

SideCar says it's a ridesharing application, not a taxi company, meeting the needs of people who want more transportation options.


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