Super Uber Panel (left to right): Dawson Rutter, Robert Werth, Alfred LaGasse, and panel moderator, David Lathbury, discuss the impact of rogue transportation apps at Tuesday’s New England Livery Association’s Seminar and Trade Show.
WORCESTER, MA —The fight by the private ground transportation industry against Uber and other unregulated mobile app technology ridesharing companies setting up shop nationwide is just heating up. That’s the message conveyed from a panel of industry experts who discussed the emergence of competitive rogue transportation apps during a panel discussion Tuesday at the New England Livery Association (NELA) Seminar and Trade Show, held at the DCU Center, Worcester, Mass.
The panel included: Dawson Rutter, president and founder, Commonwealth Worldwide; Robert Werth, president, Diamond Transportation and president of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA); Alfred LaGasse, CEO of the TLPA; and panel moderator, David Lathbury, general manager, Black Tie Limousine, and second vice president of the NELA.
Highlighting some recent victories where Uber was denied the right to operate in cities such as Portland, Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., the panel also reported there have been setbacks as well. However, all affirmed that the fight to ensure that mobile-app companies — and drivers — comply with the same rules and regulations mandated for taxi and limousine companies is gaining momentum as politicians and the public becomes more aware of the unregulated companies.
Discussing the big picture of rogue app companies, panel members stressed that as negative incidents and lawsuits begin to pile up in the future regarding the lack of proper insurance, driver qualifications, and vehicle safety, more scrutiny will be directed on their operational model.
“I never thought the government would allow these companies to operate with commercial insurance policies,” Werth said. “These companies will look you in the eye and lie (about their operations) and they haven’t come forward to be fully transparent … we have to get the facts out there,” he added.
Rutter noted that he believes the emergence of rogue app companies “caught politicians by surprise” who were swayed by an initial groundswell of support about these transportation apps. “But when you see that they operate illegally, don’t have the proper insurance, or licensing, they will realize that they made a mistake and there will be a backlash,” Rutter noted.
LaGasse, who gave attendees an overview of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, said the goal is to “enforce the rule of law so they have the proper insurance, driver and vehicle standards … If not, it will be a race to the bottom with price wars and no standards. Or, we can have the rule of law and Uber can be part of that and meet standards, then the future can be better for everyone.”
— Tom Halligan, East Coast Editor