Monday, June 16, 2014

Taxi Companies Want to Stop Popular Uber Technologies and Lyft Inc

Connecticut taxi companies are unhappy with the popular start-up companies Uber and Lyft. Last week, fifteen taxicab companies asked the District Court for the District of Connecticut for an injunction to stop these companies from operating in Connecticut. Taxicab companies in other states have initiated similar lawsuits. 

Uber and Lyft, both internet start-up companies, are new to Connecticut. The companies allow customers to summon rides through smartphone applications. Rides with Uber can be paid for with credit cards that are connected to the smartphone application. Lyft similarly accepts only credit card payments via the app but allows riders in some cities to instead make a “donation” in the amount the customer feels is appropriate for the services rendered.

The Connecticut taxicab companies argue that Uber and Lyft violate state regulations and other federal laws. The taxi companies also argue that Uber and Lyft deceive customers about insurance coverage, the safety of Uber and Lyft vehicles and the fares that customers are charged. 

They further claim that both companies’ practices result in discrimination. Uber and Lyft drivers have discretion in choosing who to drive and there are no requirements that Uber and Lyft vehicles be handicap accessible. Finally, because Uber and Lyft accept only credit card payments, those without credits cannot utilize their services. 

It will be interesting to see whether the court grants the injunction, which would effectively shut down increasingly popular services or whether the court will permit Uber and Lyft to continue to operate in Connecticut, which would effectively give Connecticut taxicab companies some stiff competition.