LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Unionized taxi drivers held a demonstration Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles calling on state regulators to stop so-called “bandit taxicabs” from operating in the city.
The rally marks the second time in less than a month that members of the taxi industry have demanded the city stop the operation of taxicabs that use smartphone app services Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which allow customers to order cabs by touch-screen.
Taxi drivers have voiced concerns that a lack of background checks, safety inspections, insurance and other regulatory actions could leave passengers at risk of what one cab official described as “electronic hitchiking”.
But Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO his company works closely with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to ensure his drivers are acting within the law.
“We have an agreement with the state of California that says what we do is legal, so the taxicab commissioner and his taxi cronies can send us whatever kind of cease-and-desist letter he wants,” Kalanick said. “The city of L.A. does not have jurisdiction over this matter.”
Kalanick added he received a letter from city Department of Transportation Taxicab Administrator Thomas Drischler on June 25 claiming drivers with his company could be subject to arrest, a threat that Kalanick dismissed.
“It’d be like them threatening to arrest the conductor of an Amtrak train,” he said. “It’s like, ‘That’s nice,’ but it’s just not under their purview.”
According to a company statement, Uber reached an agreement with the CPUC on Jan. 31 that states that “ride-sharing — or rides provided by drivers not specifically licensed to drive a limousine or taxi — is legal”.