Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Consumers Protest LA's Attempt To Shutdown Uber, Lyft, Sidecar
A move by the City of Los Angeles to shut down ridesharing and transportation services Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar has spurred some consumer backlash, with a new campaign on Change.org to get LA to repeal the cease and desist order from its tax administration bureau. Change.org is an online service which seeks to give citizens a voice in issues affecting them in government, business, school, or elsewhere. The City of Los Angeles sent out cease and desist letters to the three services, which all provide ridesharing or lifts to consumers outside of the traditional taxi and shuttle licensing in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
The nascent petition--with a little over 1600 signatures--complains that the Los Angeles taxi system is broken. Consumers on the site have complained that Los Angeles should "stop obstructing positive progress", that just because a business model is changing "it doesn't make it OK to use the legal system to shut them down" and that cab drivers in LA "are rude and almost always reluctant to accept credit cards".
Los Angeles does not have a great track record when it comes to technology companies colliding with government; even such common sense things as opening up bidding for providing Wi-Fi at LAX to local companies has been wrought with political wrangling. There also was a huge flap several years ago over attempts to seize taxes from local Internet companies by reclassifying them--a move which resulted in LegalZoom shifting its operations to more tax-friendly Glendale, and expanding in Texas rather than Los Angeles.
This is not the first time that the Los Angeles transit industry has attempted to fend off competition from others by using its political muscle; only in the last year has Los Angeles decided to finally connect its light rail system to Los Angeles International Airport, a situation which has persisted since 1992, which had been due to opposition from LA's influential and politically connected shuttle companies.