Boston taxi honchos: Uber discriminates against cancer patients, avoids bad neighborhoods, and encourages scofflaws

–File Photo

Amid a scathing Boston Globe investigative series into area taxi cab companies, two of those services have had their suit against taxi and towncar hailing start-up Uber moved from state court to Boston’s US District Court.

The suit, spotted Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub, attacks a number of Uber’s business practices, including claiming the service discriminates against cancer patients by not accepting discounted ride vouchers.

Gaffin notes:

In the suit, Boston Cab Dispatch and EJT Management charge Uber, which lets customers use a smart-phone app to arrange a ride, violates state law, which requires taxis in Boston to carry medallions.


The companies charge Uber lets drivers refuse rides to certain neighborhoods. As East Boston residents know, city law prohibits medallion drivers from refusing rides there.

The companies also charge that Uber puts public safety at risk, in part because its drivers are easily distracted by requests to pick up passengers, in part because they are not required to purchase commercial driver’s insurance to protect riders in the event of an accident, unlike medallion cabs, whose owners have commercial insurance.

Gaffin also pulled a choice quotation from the suit, particularly noteworthy in light of the Globe’s investigation showing how abusive the Boston medallion system was to actual drivers while medallion owners can often flout regulation:

Knowing who really owns and controls medallions allows the Inspector to prevent taxi licenses from falling into the wrong hands and knowing the financial condition of medallion owners assists the Inspector in setting rates that are fair to owners and the public … Uber knows virtually nothing about the stability, citizenship, criminal background, litigation record, affiliations or true ownership and control of the black car and SUV owners it describes as “partners.’’

Uber is no stranger to controversy, particularly here, where the state’s Division of Standards had found the service violated its regulations — only to quickly reverse itself after public outcry.

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