DOWNTOWN — Cabbies from around the region will gather for a protest Tuesday outside of Uber’s offices on Seventh Street in Santa Monica.
Uber, a ride-sharing company that allows riders to call drivers using a smartphone app, doesn’t face the same regulations faced by cab drivers.
Taxi and limo drivers say that Uber and other ride-sharing companies are cutting in on their profits without being held to the same standards.
I Am A Driver, an organization that works on behalf of cab drivers, is arranging the protest to raise awareness about two proposed state bills, AB 612 and AB 2293, that would ratchet up requirements for ride-sharing companies.
“These drivers don’t have any commercial insurance,” said Ben Lotfi, a protest organizer and driver since 1998. “We want to sit down and talk with them about a partnership.”
Lotfi sent Uber an e-mail last week but has yet to hear back.
“I have four kids,” he said. “They love apps and they’re going to use it one day. I need to know that they are doing background checks on their drivers and that my kids are going to be safe.”
Lotfi expects several hundred drivers to turn up for the protest, which starts at 11 a.m.
They are urging drivers to carpool to the Uber office, but not to honk or yell.
Uber did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Earlier this year a 6-year-old girl was struck and killed in San Francisco by an Uber-contracted driver. The driver was not transporting an Uber passenger at the time, and Uber officials denied responsibility.
AB 612, which I Am A Driver is rallying in support of, would require ride-sharing drivers to carry commercial insurance on their vehicles all the time, just like cabs and limos.
AB 2293 would put the ride-sharing companies on the hook for insurance whenever the driver’s app is on.
Local cab drivers have long complained about the lack of regulation placed on ridesharing drivers. They further claim that some drivers are in cahoots with hotel doorman, who, cabbies say, accept bribes and in return call ridesharing services, rather than cabbies, for big-ticket rides.
City Council outlawed this practice. Doormen and Code Compliance officials claim it is no longer occurring.