Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (pictured left) recently criticized the state lawmakers’ recent decision to deprive municipalities of the ability to regulate ride-hailing services offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Walsh argued that it is a “mistake” that Boston was stripped of any regulatory control over such companies especially because in the city about 2 million Uber orders are placed every month.
“The fact that we have basically zero regulation power, I think, is a mistake,”
the mayor added Tuesday.
He is unhappy with the Uber bill which the state governor has passed last week, but praised regulators’ efforts to regulate an industry that lacked any rules. Walsh also noted that he will try to persuade state lawmakers to allow cities and towns at least tweak the new law on their liking.
He added that his administration would now just wait and “see how it works” before it takes other steps.
Under the new law, Uber and other ride-hailing companies need to do strict background checks on their drivers and pay municipalities and the state 20 cents for every ride. The money will be later used to improve and maintain transportation infrastructure.
The fee will stay in effect for a decade, but Walsh wishes it would never expire. He recently said he couldn’t grasp why state lawmakers would put a ten-year cap on the fee because Uber and other companies in the car-hailing industry will grow bigger by that time.
Walsh was also unhappy with the current rules because they bar cities from performing background checks on Uber and Lyft drivers. Under the new rules, Uber drivers can only be verified by the company and state authorities.
Walsh added that cities should have more oversight in that area, even though Gov. Charlie Baker believes that the new method of checking drivers is “the most rigorous in the country.” Boston’s police chief has also argued for a tighter control over Uber drivers. He even proposed for these drivers to be fingerprinted, a measure the mayor considers to be too extreme.
On the other hand there is a silver lining to the story. The new rules will shield Walsh’ administration from regulating ride-sharing services just as they did with regular taxi services around the city, as a recent court decision has said.
In the lawsuit, the city was accused of discriminating against cab companies by not regulating Uber and other ride-hailing firms. The mayor said that under the new rules the city can do nothing about it so there will be two types of regulations: one for the taxis and another one for Uber and similar services.
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