UPDATE: Rideshare companies face pushback in Madison

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

UPDATED Tuesday, April 22, 2014 --- 10:32 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police and city leaders are pushing back against ridesharing companies operating in Madison.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1muBsdb ) undercover police fined drivers from the ridesharing companies more than $1,300 last weekend for violating Madison's taxi ordinances.

A representative from Lyft, one company that hires drivers to use their own cars and shuttle passengers, says the operation doesn't violate any of the city's laws.

Police and Mayor Paul Soglin disagree. Soglin says the ridesharing companies amount to unlicensed taxi cabs, and police have vowed more crackdowns.

Police in March warned the companies about the sting operations if drivers continued soliciting riders.

The controversy has sparked a conversation by some city officials to create new ordinances that allow the businesses to operate with some regulation.

Copyright 2014. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, March 13, 2014 --- 4:26 p.m.

Madison Police are asking unlicensed citizen ride share drivers to stop driving for the time being.

Wednesday night at a public meeting, taxi drivers voiced concerns that drivers from citizen ride share services such as Lyft and Uber were taking fares without having a license to do so.

Taxi drivers argued that it was giving drivers from Lyft and Uber an unfair advantage.

Thursday, the Madison City Attorney ruled that the companies are in violation of city ordinances.

Madison Police advise the drivers to cease and desist while further discussions are underway, or they could be cited.

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Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 --- 10:40 p.m.

Launched less than two weeks ago in Madison, ride-sharing companies like "Lyft" are hoping to connect customers with citizen drivers through an app you can download on your smart phone.

It's a concept that's both gaining popularity and stirring up controversy as it spreads to more cities around the country.

Here's how it works: customers download the company's app on their smart phones. Then they can hit "Request Lyft." That request notifies drivers nearby, who also have the app. The drivers then choose to accept or decline to pick up customers.

"I'm able to set my own hours, I'm able to use the car that I have," said Lyft driver Brad Parker.

The app is also linked to customer's and drivers' Facebook profiles and credit card information. After the service, customers rate drivers and vice-versa. Which is updated on their profiles.

"In almost every case, I hear these companies and their supporters making these same arguments." But Union Cab drivers like Jason Glomp aren't on board.

At a public discussion session tonight on the issue, traditional taxi cab companies' employees argued this business model is illegal.

"They tell people that they're not taxi companies and therefore should not be bound by the same rules as the cab industry. But as I understand, their business model, they contract drivers to pick up customers on demand and transport them throughout the city for a fee. My question is, how is that not a taxi service," Glomp said.

City ordinances require taxi cab drivers follow specific regulations. The debate: can both new and old operate in Madison?

"Those of us who are operating in this local cab market have had issues with regulation in the past, but we all don't have the audacity to simply operate in violation of that ordinance," Glomp said.

"I don't think anyone from Lyft is trying to take over cab companies," Parker said. "What I think that this is, is kind of an evolution of the concept of cabs."

Since the concept is so new to Madison, no decisions have been made yet. Some on the city council want to propose an ordinance system that would allow both kinds of ride services to compete fairly and legally.


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