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Alder Scott J. Resnick

Alder Scott J. Resnick

Home Address:
661 Mendota Ct # 1404
Madison , WI 53703

Phone: 608-807-7962
Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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The Great Lyft and Uber Debate

March 10, 2014 5:19 PM

Today, I saw my first mustachioed Lyft vehicle. It was a light gray SUV with a pink mustache on the grill driving down Wisconsin Avenue. With that, Madison joined cities like Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta and San Francisco other communities who now have to deal with the legality of this disruptive service.

Lyft is a citizen ride-share service that connects drivers with anonymous riders through a mobile application. It's a creative concept. Madison should celebrate that entreprenural companies like these are targeting us. However (and hence the blog post), the operations of these companies are current illegal in Madison.

Lyft does not fit into the current paradigm of Madison's taxi cab ordinances. Currently, city ordinances require public passenger divers to be licensed by the City and have a background check. Companies are required to operate 24/7, have uniform colors and markings, maintain a certain level of insurance, service all areas of the City, provide standard fares and provide accessible service.

Why do we have most of these ordinances? Answer: safety and equity. Fundamentally, we want to our residents to feel safe stepping into a taxi cab. We also demand that our residents to be treated equally, regardless of their neighborhood, appearance or physical capabilities. Lyft, and parallel services such as Uber, don't cut it.

We're not alone - most cities around the country have struggled with Lyft and Uber. The way cities have thought about cab companies for the last 50 years is being turned upside down. So what are we to do?

Personally, I am excited these disruptive companies have opened in Madison, and I believe we have a chance to buck a national trend. Rather than molding Lyft and Uber into a traditional taxi cab company, we have an opportunity to be innovative and pass an ordinance that encourages creativity without sacrificing our values. This will require openness, discussion and pragmatism. Lyft and Uber are not going away, nor should we let them.

My intention is to create an ordinance system where both traditional and new companies can compete on the same playing field. I would like explore ideas such as mandating background checks for drivers, limiting certain pickup zones on State Street and the airport, and creating low barriers for entry within the sharing economy.

I also want to hear your ideas. On Wednesday, 5 pm, the Transit and Parking Commission will be holding a listening session to discuss Lyft and Uber. The meeting is in room 260 of the Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

I hope for a lively discussion.


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