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L.A. taxi drivers to protest Uber, other ride-share apps at City Hall

L.A. taxi drivers staging demonstration to protest ride-sharing apps, seek more regulation

Taxi drivers are slated to gather around Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday morning in a demonstration calling for stricter regulation of ride-sharing services like those on apps like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber.

The taxi drivers, along with and City Council members Paul Koretz and Gil Cedillo, say the use of such apps is dangerous and needs to be regulated.

“I would ask my daughter not to ride in an Uber car because, in my opinion, they are unsafe,” Koretz told CBS Los Angeles. “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 ride-sharing services should not be allowed to operate on our streets."

Lyft, Sidecar and Uber are mobile-phone apps that connect drivers with people who need a ride. Using the apps often proves cheaper than traditional taxis, and their use has rapidly gained popularity in metro areas including Los Angeles. Last week, Uber raised $1.2 billion in venture capital in a deal that valued the company at $18.2 billion.

Koretz and Cedillo are pushing for the passage of Assembly Bill 612 in the state Senate. The bill would require ride-sharing companies to provide $1 million in insurance coverage for their drivers and would also subject drivers to a fingerprint background check with the California Department of Justice.

Last week, an Uber driver was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a woman and taking her to a Panorama City motel. Prosecutors ultimately did not file charges, but the driver was banned by Uber.

Uber says it requires all drivers to pass a background check that includes checks of county, federal and multistate records going back seven years.

The company accuses the taxi industry of spreading misinformation to press for legislation the company describes as aimed more at limiting competition than enhancing consumer safety.

In a statement to The Times, Uber said 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," the company said.

Tuesday's demonstration was slated to begin at about 9:30 a.m. L.A. taxi drivers staged a similar demonstration last year to protest ride-sharing services.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

UDPATE

10:45 a.m.: This post was updated with a statement from Uber.

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