Ann Arbor area residents have a couple of new options to get around town, but the city’s taxi cab board has concerns. The conflict between traditional cab drivers and new services like Uber and Lyft has come to Washtenaw County.
Many area residents are excited to see services such as Uber and Lyft bringing an alternative to the traditional taxi to Ann Arbor. This type of on demand car service however has faced criticism from many taxi drivers around the country, and Ann Arbor is following suit.
The General Manager of Uber in Michigan Michael White says safety is their top priority and the company is providing a economic boost to the area. According to White that’s because it offers another option for people looking for a ride, and can help drivers maximize the use of their vehicle.
City council and Taxi Cab Board member Stephen Kunselman however says there is a public safety concern to have drivers unknown to the community providing rides. Kunselman says there may be cost benefits for passengers, but there are risks as well.
White highlights they are a technology company not a transportation company. He says they don’t hire any drivers or own any vehicles.
Kunsleman fears passengers could be left without any insurance coverage if an alternative-cab they are riding in gets in an accident. He points to the city of Detroit that has sent a cease and desist letter to Uber, and Madison, Wisconsin which did a sting operation and found many drivers lacking insurance and a proper license. Due to these concerns Kunselman believes the city will ultimately need to craft new ordinance language covering all drivers for hire in the city.
— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.