NELA CEO Rick Szilagyi urges members to support a bill that regulates TNCs.
BOSTON — New England Livery Association (NELA) CEO Rick Szilagyi urged members Wednesday night during the association’s quarterly meeting to attend a public hearing Sept. 15 on two bills that address TNCs operating throughout the state.
One bill, introduced by Governor Charlie Baker, calls for TNCs to operator under a separate category under state supervision, but falls short of requiring the TNCs to live up to the strict rules, regulations and insurance standards of taxis and private transportation companies.
The second bill, supported by the NELA and the taxi industry, calls for TNCs to operate under the same rules and regulations that private transportation companies are subject to under the state.
“We need all of you to reach out to your senators and representatives to support our bill and attend the meeting (Joint Committee on Financial Services) next Tuesday to rally support against the governor’s bill and support the requirements in our legislation,” said Szilagyi.
The two main areas of concern that the Governor’s bill does not address are stronger measures to protect the riding public.
“There are two areas that we need to rally support and make our voice heard—public safety and consumer protection,” added Szilagyi.
Regarding public safety, the NELA supported bill would require fingerprint background checks and TNC vehicles must be marked by a livery plate so the riding public and local police know the vehicle is a vehicle for hire. In addition, the bill requires TNCs to have 24/7 commercial insurance, something that is not required in the governor’s bill.
Another point of contention is providing transportation for the elderly and poor. “If TNCs are allowed to persist with the lower cost basis from the omission of standard safety practice, they will drive taxis out of business , at which time no one will be available to service the elderly and less fortunate who are only able to pay cash and do not have a smartphone to hail a ride,” said Szilagyi.
Further, he said the TNC practice of surge pricing “opens the public up to price gouging and drives the less fortunate from the market entirely.”
Like other associations around the country that are fighting TNCs that disregard accepted standards, the NELA is only asking government to level the playing field by requiring TNCs to abide by the same rules and regulations as private transportation companies.