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Denver Taxi Companies: More Regulation For Uber, Lyft Is Needed

DENVER (CBS4) - As ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft flourish in the Denver metro area, taxi companies and drivers said the startups are unfairly and increasingly encroaching on their turf.

This week Uber received permission from Denver International Airport to offer rides to and from the airport, joining Lyft, which got permission last week.

That's cut into more taxi business and cab drivers said the nascent industry is too lightly regulated.

The state's public utilities commission heard arguments Tuesday over how it should draw up new regulations, if any. Cab drivers said they would welcome more scrutiny on Lyft and Uber.

"They hurt my business, absolutely," one cab driver told CBS4 on Tuesday.

The ride-sharing services are also required to do vehicle inspections in addition to background checks on drivers.

"I had a state and federal criminal background check (and) had to provide proof of insurance," Uber driver John Simmons said.

But unlike taxis, the companies can, per Colorado statute, process their own background checks if they choose and keep the records private.

The PUC can audit the companies but hasn't so far.

Uber Lyft
A Uber driver (credit: CBS)
Taxi Cabs DIA
Taxi cabs at DIA (credit: CBS)

"We have not yet. This law is just several months old," PUC spokesman Terry Bote said Tuesday.

The president of one Denver cab company argued the law is not adequate to oversee Uber and Lyft.

By not conducting transparent background checks, "they're potentially putting people in harm's way," Robert McBride, the president of Metro Taxi, said.

But an Uber representative in Denver on Tuesday said the company's background-check process is more stringent than the government-mandated one.

"Our background check process is leading the industry and, in many cases, is better or superior to municipalities, state and local levels," Will McCollum said.

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