State Senator Chris Larson authored two bills that look to regulate Uber and companies like it.
The Milwaukee Democrat says that’s because taxis and other traditional ride services are subject to more scrutiny, which is making it almost impossible for them to compete.
“They’ve gotten an unequal playing field and an unequal advantage,” Larson says.
Currently, only the Department of Safety and Professional Services can regulate these companies. Under one of these bills, municipalities would allow first class cities to also regulate companies like Uber or Lyft.
The other bill would put tighten requirements for complaint procedures and require all drivers to get third party background checks — among other tightened regulations.
“These are things that would just start to make sure there’s an equal playing field … it’s for the protection of the passengers to drivers,” Larson says.
Rebecca Kemble is on the Madison city council, but she’s also a cab driver — and has been for 17 years. She points to in several incidents in recent years where people have gotten hurt or had trouble filing a complaint with Uber.
She recounts an incident last year when a man got out of an Uber on the Beltline, an area that’s not open to pedestrians. The man was drunk, and he was struck by a car — killing him. She says stricter safety training requirements — like cabs have — would have saved his life.
“People are dying because of the lack of common sense public safety regulations,” Kemble says.
An Uber spokesperson said in an emailed statement to WORT:
“We are pleased that Wisconsinites are taking advantage of the flexible earning opportunities and safe, reliable transportation options provided by Uber. Utilizing technology that provides efficiency and safety, we are proud to serve riders and drivers across the state, connecting our communities with the push of a button.”