LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of taxicab drivers descended on the steps of City Hall Tuesday morning to protest popular ridesharing apps.
The drivers were joined by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Gil Cedillo to protest unregulated and unrestricted taxi apps such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.
Demonstrators said drivers of so-called "bandit cabs" do not have to pass background checks using fingerprints or have their vehicles inspected for safety.
Assembly Bill 612, sponsored by Sherman Oaks Representative Adrin Nazarin, would require drive-for-hire companies to provide $1 million insurance coverage for drivers.
Drivers would also have to submit to a fingerprint background check with the California Department of Justice.
Taxi driver Efrin Degen, who supports AB 612, said, "Anybody that gets into a taxicab [is] 100 percent insured, and we'll take care of anything that happens."
In a statement following the protest, Uber said, "We are proud of our best-in-class insurance policy, which includes $1 million in commercial insurance coverage for all vehicles engaged in a trip via the Uber platform – far more than most taxis in the state. Uber also requires all driver partners to pass an industry-leading background check that includes county, federal and multi-state checks going back seven years."
The company continued, "While Uber is focused on offering a safe, convenient and reliable transportation alternative, Big Taxi is choosing to spread misinformation and line their pockets. This legislation is not about safety or consumers; it's about protecting entrenched Sacramento special interests from competition. Californians across the state support innovation, consumer choice and economic opportunity – it's time for the legislature to listen to the voice of people over the voice of the status quo."
Uber driver Edward Bullard said, "We have our own personal insurance and Uber has actually partnered with us to have a secondary insurance when we're on the clock, as well."
Lyft and Sidecar carry similar insurance for their drivers in addition to requiring DMV/criminal background checks and an in-person interview.
Earlier this month, Colorado became the first state to enact laws requiring all ridesharing companies to carry similar insurance and conduct background checks.
"I would ask my daughter not to ride in an Uber car because, in my opinion, they are unsafe. We've seen incidents where Uber riders right here in Los Angeles, as well as all around the nation, have been endangered. Without regulation, these ridesharing services should not be allowed to operate on our streets. We have a moral obligation to level the playing field with vigorous background checks," Councilman Koretz said.
Venice resident Hillary Glaholt, who often uses ridesharing services like Uber, said whether she uses a cab or another service, she approaches them both with caution.
"I don't know, I always assume taxis can be just as bad. So the same concern I would have for [a ridesharing service], I've had for taxis," she said.
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