Greater Lansing Taxi Authority wrestles with Uber

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City Clerk Marie Wicks holding the licenses that taxi drivers should have on and in their cabs.

City Clerk Marie Wicks holding the licenses that taxi drivers should have on and in their cabs.

By Jessie Martens
Entirely East Lansing

The Greater Lansing Taxi Authority, created by East Lansing and Lansing in 2014, promotes regulation of prices and safety in the community. The concern is the new system of transportation that is becoming popular in East Lansing, Uber.

The new regulations require background checks, drug tests and proper insurance for taxis in East Lansing. There are stickers placed in the back window of licensed taxis that prove they have gone through the proper inspections. There should also be information of the taxi proving the driver is approved to legally drive the taxi.

City Clerk Marie Wicks said that the community and students need to be aware of safety concerns with Uber. Wicks says Uber is not required to follow the same laws taxis, the main priority of the Greater Lansing Taxi Authority.

Valentino Hernandez, owner of Icab, said that he strongly agreed with the Greater Lansing Taxi Authority’s decision to regulate local taxi drivers. Hernandez’s concern, though, deals with Uber.

“There are a lot of students that are technologically savvy that find Ubering a car is easier than getting a cab,” Hernandez said. “The problem is that if they were involved in an accident and someone was to get injured, the personal insurance from that driver is probably not going to cover it”.

While Uber states it does have background checks on their drivers, local taxi company owners have different views.

Gary Marshall, owner of DD’s Downtown Taxi, likes the competition of Uber but said that the person who inspects Uber cars does not have to be a mechanic, just another driver. “If this is how Uber inspects vehicles, I wonder how good their background checks are?”

Hernandez said that some of the drivers from his company who failed the regulated background check, now work as Uber drivers in the area.

The Greater Lansing Taxi Authority was put in place to provide safety and security for those using the taxi system. Uber is popular in the area because of its efficiency, according to students at Michigan State.

Mark Kaschalk, Michigan State junior and frequent Uber user, said that while he does use Uber frequently because it is usually faster and cheaper, he agrees that taxis are the safer option after hearing about the new policy. Kaschalk also said that it would be a good idea to regulate Uber drivers for safety.

The Greater Lansing Taxi Authority is doing a great job in making the East Lansing area safer, the next obstacle to tackle is to regulate Uber. Wicks said that this has been a battle since Uber became popular, but the council is doing its best to work something out.

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