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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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What I learned at the Uber and Lyft Public Hearing

March 17, 2014 8:16 PM

On Wednesday, the Transit and Parking Commission discussed ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft. There was passionate debate from both ride-share patrons and representatives from traditional cab companies. Video from the hearing can be found here.

I personally took away several observations from the meeting:

  • Uber and Lyft are not charging fares. If this changes, they will be in violation of Madison General Ordinances, and drivers will be subjected to $700 fines.
  • There are insurance issues to be resolved. Commission members asked excellent questions regarding the amount commercial coverage each driver carries. (Recently, there was an announcement that Uber and Lyft are expanding their coverage, but I am far from an expert on the details.)
  • Workman's compensation questions were raised.
  • Safety for both passengers and drivers was a repeated topic.
  • Equity for service and the ability to handle disabled patrons was also discussed.
  • Some safety concerns can be overcome by new technology and a paradigm shift.

(Note: this is not an exhaustive list and only my opinions. Feel free to watch the entire four hour video here)

A general theme developed among veteran cab drivers who were not afraid of the competition, but want a fair market. I agree. And, I still believe in the regulation of Uber and Lyft. While the discussion on Wednesday raised many more questions, I would still like explore ideas such as mandating background checks for drivers, require vehicle inspections, limiting certain pickup zones on State Street and cab stands, and creating low barriers for entry within the sharing economy. I believe we should use this opportunity to reexamine our City's cab policies, and look for ways to allow innovation within our ordinances that can be applied equitably. 

This process is far from immediate. Any ordinance change will be reviewed by the Transit and Parking Commission and include a public hearing. The Commission could create a subcommittee to review the ordinance change further. The ordinance could be referred other committees, each with a public hearing. Moreover, their recommendation will be debated in front of the entire Common Council. I predict this process will take two to three months, and there is no guarantee that my suggestions will be codified into ordinance.

In the spirit of transparency, an open records request was made by the Wisconsin Reporter into this matter. Linked are all emails including the words Rideshare, Uber, or Lyft. So if you enjoy reading 186 pages of email conversations on this subject, feel free to download the PDF.

Not everyone will agree with my position, but I will continue to listen to every opinion and new idea. I hope the conversation can remain respectful even when the conversation is heated. I have collected constructive feedback from both sides and neutral onlookers, and those thoughts are appreciated.

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