New bill aims to tighten regulations on Uber, taxi drivers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 21, 2015) – After accusations toward Uber drivers, including an attack on a rider in Chicago and the rape of a rider in Boston, lawmakers are looking to make regulations on the industry tougher.

Currently in Indiana, there are zero state requirements for ride-share drivers.  An Indiana General Assembly bill is looking to change that, but in the process, taxi drivers who have been out on the roads for decades say it’s hurting them instead.

“Been almost 24 years, since March of ’91,” said Mark Caplinger, an Indy taxi cab driver. He has been driving a taxi cab for more than two decades in the circle city.

“I just wish that they would level the playing field for them to make it even for us because they’re taking our business and it’s not fair. They’re not regulated like we are,” said Caplinger.

He’s talking about Uber and other rideshare drivers.  They’re part of a totally unregulated industry in Indiana.

“If you’ve ever been convicted of assault or battery, you can never drive a cab. DUIs, one for ten years, if you’ve ever had two, you can never drive a cab,” said Caplinger.

Indy city cab drivers are highly regulated.  They have to submit to state police and FBI, criminal background checks every year.  They’re also required to have a professional driver’s license, a city taxi license, and commercial insurance.

Caplinger wants to see Uber drivers face the same stringencies he does.

“They’re not regulated like we are,” he said.

“I just wanted to make sure that when you get in the back of a taxi or rideshare car, that you can be reasonably assured that your driver’s a good person and a good driver and you’ll get to your destination safely,” said State Representative, Christina Hale (D- Indianapolis).

Hale introduced a bill that would regulate taxi cab and Uber drivers statewide at the same level.

“Even taxis in Indiana are not governed at the state level but merely at the municipal level. So depending on which city you’re in, your driver in a taxi or Uber, or you name it, may or may not have had a background check done,” she said.

“I started driving in ’91 of March and ever since then it’s been regulated to where you have to do everything,” said Caplinger.

Hale’s bill however doesn’t account for cab drivers in cities like Indy who are already strictly controlled.

Drivers in the Circle City are concerned this new policy could double up their regulations and cause cabbies like Caplinger to pay even more money.

“It’s just not fair. It’s just not fair for us, or them,” he said.

Hale hopes the city will opt to use the state’s taxi regulations and eliminate their own.  Her bill will be heard by a house committee next week.

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