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Taxi Cab Drivers Circle City Hall In Protest Of Ride-Share Services

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of taxi cab drivers Tuesday were slowly circling City Hall to protest the rise of unregulated ride-share services.

The rally began at 9 a.m. at 200 North Spring St. in downtown Los Angeles.

Members of the taxi industry say drivers working for ride-share companies — such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar — are not required to undergo background checks and that their vehicles don’t need to be inspected.

“These are bandit taxi cabs, which the city’s long had a policy against, but they have a slick new package,” General Manager of Los Angeles Yellow Cab William Rouse told KNX1070.

The new ride-share companies use smartphone applications and social media to pick up their riders, and protestors say they are concerned for their safety.

“First and foremost, our drivers go through a series of background checks, our vehicles go through safety inspections, our insurance is checked by the city and that is a part of the regulatory structure of the taxi cab industry that protects the public,” Rouse said. “For the public to be taking those services without that scrutiny is essentially like electronic hitchhiking.”

Uber said it has worked closely with the California Public Utilities Commission.

“We reached an agreement with the CPUC confirming that Uber is authorized in California and suspending the prior complaints and fines levied against the company. More than that, the agreement states that ride-sharing — or rides provided by drivers not specifically licensed to drive a limousine or taxi — is legal too,” the company posted on its blog on Jan. 31.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation Taxicab Administrator Thomas Drischler issued “cease and desist” letters Monday urging the companies to stop their operations. The City Council’s Transportation Committee is scheduled to discuss regulation of the companies Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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