Bill aims to create guidelines for companies like Uber, Lyft

ANNAPOLIS, Md - They're not your traditional cabs, in fact, they're not cabs at all.

Companies like Uber and Lyft are smartphone application-based, meaning you can request, track, and even pay for the transportation using their app on your phone. But traditional cab companies say if they're going to join in the transportation market, they need to follow the same guidelines across the board.

"We carry life. When we transport people, the object, the subject, and the surrounding is life," said Andy Tedla, who has driven cabs for 22 years. "Any mistake and it means playing with human life. So, yes, we need to check that we are putting the best drivers on the road."

Representatives with Uber said their drivers have to pass background checks among other certifications and customers rate the drivers as soon as they step out of the car.

"The taxi companies say, 'We have to do all these burdens and regulations, so should they.' I think that's the wrong approach. I think we should say, 'Are these regulations really protecting consumers and if not, why do we have them?'" said Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City).

Ferguson says he got behind the bill after a cease and desist order was filed against the application-based companies. He says, currently, there is a gray area in regulations for these companies because they are so different than the cabs Baltimore is used to. He says Senate Bill 919 gives flexible tools to apply to this new market.

"I think the real question isn't let's look backward. It's are Maryland consumers being well served? And if they're being well served, Lyft and Uber wouldn't ever have a need to exist. So, something is wrong. The market is not working; people don't feel like they have good options for transportation services," Ferguson said.

Representatives from taxi companies say it has nothing to do with the new, increased competition, but instead their main focus is customer safety.

But Uber drivers say they're new approach is working better than they could have imagined.

"Like energy at one point, we only had one choice, one option. Now you have other options, other choices," one driver said.

Ferguson says if the bill doesn't pass, companies like Uber and Lyft will be forced to shut down.

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