CHAIRMEN: Representative Guerrera
VICE CHAIRMEN: Senator Leone
SENATORS: Boucher, Frantz, Kennedy, Martin, Osten
REPRESENTATIVES: Bumgardner, Carney, Devlin, Giegler, Janowski, Jutila, Lavielle, Lemar, Lopes, MacLachlan, McCarthy Vahey, Morin, O'Dea, Sayers, Scanlon, Serra, Simanski, Steinberg, Verrengia, Wilms, Zawistowski
REP. GUERRERA: And with that I will ask if Senator McLachlan, is he here? He's running a little late. Okay. Well I guess with that then I want to ask if Commissioner Redeker, is he here? There he is. And also for the members of the committee, the report -- hopefully you will know that the report did come out and it was sent to everybody this morning so you do have it okay. Commissioner, good morning.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and to members of the committee. I'm pleased to be here this morning and it's after a late night of reading a report that I got last night. And I wanted to just make my remarks and then as it relates to the report that was commissioned by the DOT and the DMV based on the legislative requirement that we get an investigation of the current operations of the current regulatory environment specific to what the TNC companies may or may not represent in terms of regulatory next steps. So let me just basically start with what in fact was in the scope of the study that we've asked CCSU to perform and say to you that in the short time period, really within the two months it's an extraordinary amount of work that they were able to put together.
Their report is fresh and off the press and you're just looking at it. So what I might do today is give you a -- a sort of an overview of what I think is in the report, what's not in the report and then open it up for some questions. What we actually asked the scope of the study to be was to actually begin with an investigation of the current regulatory and operating environment in the State of Connecticut.
How does the industry itself today, tax, limousine and the TNC companies, how do they fit into the regulatory framework? Those regulations were last promulgated in the 1920s and have not been changed or updated since then. And one of the questions was are there current? Do they meet the current industry needs? Do they need to be updated or changed? And with that how in fact are they being executed through the -- the DOT and DMV that have primary responsibilities for aspects of a marketplace determination, safety determinations and ongoing vehicle and driver inspections. So that was the scope of the report starting with the current industry.
We asked that they look specifically at several issues including safety, insurance, background checks, pricing, those kind of things. And what you'll find in the report are really five areas of investigation. Vehicle safety is principle in what the investigators did. Second, how that relates to driver background checks, what happens today, what doesn't happen today. Insurance, you know what is the coverage, are there gaps in that coverage, et cetera. And then there are two issues that are really touched on but -- but really positioned for future work because the investigation didn't get that far. One is in pricing and the other one is about access. Who gets access to service?
Now here's what's not in the report that was expected. So this is probably due I'm sure to the time limits that the investigators had. We really don't see any detailed recommendations about what happens today. The process that the DOT oversees, the process that DMV oversees really wasn't taken a look at in terms of whether the 1920 regulations and the practices today are actually performing what they should.
What evidence is there that they're working? Are vehicles safe or not? Is the convenience and necessity determination being done effectively or not? How long does it take to do it, et cetera? And what resources would it take if you were to find a -- to find a different approach or a best in class service delivery, what would it take to do that from a regulatory and from a staffing and a support services perspective. That's not in the report. An area that's principle for me and I think you know that in terms of what I think is critical is the area of customer service and satisfaction.
It seems that the -- that's a piece of business that is still outstanding. Frankly I think to get to the place that this report gets deserves an airing form the public, the users of the system, the customers of the system to see what in fact their reactions might be to some of the recommendations or frankly even the services today. That's a -- that's not an easy thing to do but perhaps that's something that this committee would like to take on as a next step recommendation. There's also very little data. There's a lot of reporting. There's a lot of anecdotal reporting, a lot of research reports that were read from all around the country, in fact all over the world. This is an issue that is not just something facing Connecticut. But there's really no data. There's no analytics driving where we are.
So questions about which systems are safe or not and how do you determine them? What insurance coverage does exist and are there (inaudible) and are they at the same level and how do you prove that? What is the effectiveness of background checks and -- and which background checks can work better than another? As I said customer satisfaction was not part of any reporting and the question about pricing and certainly gouged pricing for things like New Year's Eve.
There's an example of New Year's Eve but that's just one day a year and how does that work the rest of the time and is that something we want to entertain? Now after all places like -- you know companies like Amtrak and airlines do different pricing at surge times and -- and it's not unlike what other companies do and that's not really covered. I'll go on. We don't have -- we don't have any data on existing impacts of one service on another.
So the question is -- that I was looking for -- would like to see at some point is what in fact is happening to the -- the performance of service? Who's getting service and not? Are more people getting service today than not, before -- than before we had TNCs in the marketplace? And with TNCs in the marketplace has there been a negative or a positive impact on the performance and financial conditions of -- of taxi service providers. This -- the report touches on but doesn't go into any detail on the question about other ridesharing services.
If you were to posit that TNC companies are ridesharing services or at least define themselves that way, if you regulate all ridesharing today the services provided through DOT for car pooling and -- and van pooling don't conform -- don't have regulatory systems that guide them. And so the question is if we go down that route should they also be looked at? That was not in the report. So that's sort of what's not in the report. And so I'll give you a -- my quick review of what I think is helpful in the report and what still may be work to be done. So as I said there's no empirical data in this report.
Also there are -- as you get through the recommendations around particularly safety what I don't -- what we don't have here is a step by step guide to if you chose options, option A or option B because they posit different alternatives, what would it take to implement those? Who would do it? How would it be done? What steps would have to be taken and therefore it's really hard to know whether there's a fiscal impact or a staffing impact on DMV or DOT. Because the report goes on to say that if you current -- if you think that we should regulate TNCs and because DOT and DMV currently do it then it's logical to assume that DOT and DMV would continue.
In fact I was actually looking for whether or not that is a good idea or whether we should look for a different model for oversight. So the report is also structured around I think the idea that one size fits all. That -- that all different kinds of businesses should be regulated with -- with sort of parity and equity across different markets. And I raised the question is that -- is that really true? Are there -- or are there different business models in this day and age that should be considered for how this kind of service gets done and is there a different kind of a place for a free marketplace or did -- at least trials in the marketplace.
And I'd harken back to a regulatory authority the DOT had for decades over the moving industry and last year the Legislature deregulated it and the question is why did that happen and is that helpful and is that working and we might want to consider that as well. And then I do think that it's important for us to take a look at and I'll admit that this is a work that has not been done by the Department of Transportation and probably should have been.
But the fact that we've got 1920s regulations still in effect that are that old really suggests to me that we should be relooking at the current regulatory environment. So when it comes right down to it I think that there are some -- some thoughts here that are worth -- worth moving into. I personally think that safety's important. That is part of our regulatory mission. But so is the question of convenience and necessity and that's not really addressed here.
In other words is there a -- an oversight from who provides what in what marketplace and does everybody need to go through that? But when it comes right down to it for me, without empirical data and without next steps it's really hard to act on the report today. And I think there's some -- some potential things that could -- could go forward. So if you take the three major areas that the researchers came forward with one is on safety. So the question is are the vehicles inspected consistently?
Do they have to be but if they should be how do you do that? That is an important consideration. Second is the safety from the who's driving the vehicle perspective. Should everybody go through the same background checks or not? Are there different variations on that that might actually be more efficient and effective and what's the proof, what's the data that supports that? It's very clear that today background checks are very time consuming.
And frankly our major issues and complaints about why does it take so long to get through the process. And maybe there's a different model there. And then when it comes to insurance there's a -- there are at least hypothesis or assertions that maybe there's a gap in insurance for the TNC providers and yet we haven't seen that that's a real issue yet in Connecticut. We haven't pointed to any evidence that it is. And -- and part of the question too is when it comes to insurance should everybody have the same kind of insurance and how do you get there because there's different levels for different kinds of services.
So those three issues are the primary focus of the report that you have in front of you. I think they're good opportunities for discussion and dialogue, suggest that there's still needs for data to support real final recommendations. And I think the researchers also suggest that whatever happens this session maybe take the perspective that we do maybe something but take a little bit longer and go a little bit deeper in another session because there's just so much that we still don't know.
This is a very changing industry. It changes day to day. Every state that has taken it on has found that there's movement and change and they're still adapting to that. And I'll close with just one final piece. This is a report that's based on Connecticut, what's going on in Connecticut and about nine comparable entities, other states or cities that do something which leaves 41 other states not doing anything. And that's also an interesting point. That I don't know what that means but -- but we're only seeing action in certain places and I suspect that's because in many cases there have been legal challenges to oversight and other cases it's just a changing industry and people are waiting to see what happens.
FSo I know that's not conclusive but it's a summary so you don't have to read the report without some -- a guideline as to what we felt we wanted, what may not be finished work. I think there's an opportunity to continue to do work and I suggest that's an option. And finally and most importantly from my perspective is making sure that this is vetted from the consumer point of view because in the end it's about protecting consumer service, consumer's you know delivery of service, safety and reliability and those are really important as what the State of Connecticut delivers each and every day. And with that I'll end. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Commissioner. Let me just say first that I think this committee has a tremendous amount of respect for the taxicab industry out there. We all know they do a great job. Hardworking individuals. And that's why we are having this meeting in regards to that. I think -- I don't want to speak for everyone but I will say this, I think it's important for us as committee members to look at this in a sense that you know we have an obligation to make sure that the playing field is fair and that we allow -- we have an obligation to make sure that consumers that use any type of rideshare, taxicab industries that we know that there's some safety aspects that are involved in this whether this it's background checks, inspections or even insurance.
Nobody wants to see anyone go into any vehicle and get involved in an accident that doesn't have insurance or vice versa that you know, no background checks were ever done on drivers. So with that said I want to commend Central Connecticut State University for the report. I know it was difficult for them in regards to the short time span that we had here.
In hindsight I wish we could have maybe pushed it a little further out in regards to getting more information from consumers out there because it does seem like consumers who use taxicabs or who use Uber seem to love it on both sides. And it would have been nice to get some of that input but we never directed them to look into that so we can't look at them for not following the rules.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Well we actually did but I think it really is a time constraint. And I sympathize with the pressure on the limited couple of months that they had to do all the work that might or could have been done.
REP. GUERRERA: Right. But with that, Commissioner, you know things are changing out there as we know. You know we've got -- you know technology is unbelievable. We've got new companies coming in. We've got vehicles as you know last time you heard Tesla who's a major electric vehicle that wants to come into the State under a different business model and so forth.
I think -- is it your understanding that throughout the whole process of we as a committee came up with some type of scenario or recommendation that would say that we're looking at inspections, insurance and background checks. Would you feel comfortable that the consumer out there is well treated basically? That -- that you would feel comfortable that they -- before they get into any vehicle whether it's a taxicab who already has it or Uber who says they have it too, do you feel comfortable with that?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Yeah. Well I -- I mean I would like to have safety guarantee. We can't guarantee any of that. Things happen no matter what. But making sure that -- that we have people that are licensed and registered vehicles and safe vehicles is important. And insured vehicles. So I get all that. what I can't tell is the efficacy or efficiency today of the systems we use today within the taxi industry and whether alternatives that are out there proposed by or used by Uber in their business or TNCs generally in their business provide a different outcome.
I mean that's just -- there's -- we are at a place where as much as we would have liked to get data from everyone about those issues they -- it was not available at this time or at least in this time period to get there. So I think ultimately you need to -- whatever we're doing have the resources in place to follow through and check on real performance because that's not -- the feedback group on real performance is not very clear. We do some work up front with taxis so vehicles are inspected, drivers are licensed, background checks happen, insurance is required and the TNCs also say they do that.
The question is which is effective? Are they both just as effective and who do you demonstrate that with real data and to this point what we have is studies but not real data from the Connecticut industries right now to make that comparison or that call. But obviously anything we do around pushing the safety envelope, pushing that -- that as -- you know to the place where people are comfortable. And to your point what I can't tell is do customers feel that they're safe no matter what. And that is important.
REP. GUERRERA: So right now is it -- under the DOT obviously you regulate in regards to what the taxicab industry does.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Correct.
REP. GUERRERA: Obviously whatever we come up with as a committee here are you willing to take on that additional information in regards to inspections, background checks, and making sure that they have liability insurance.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: So again there's --
REP. GUERRERA: That's a nod yes.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: That's the -- the nod. Of course I gave. Everyone has to do. That's my job. And we're happy to do that. but the -- remember it is DOT and DMV and so -- and that was to my point that addressing the question of for example should there be complete background checks as taxis get for the TNC companies has a potential impact depending upon how that happens. If it's going to go through the exact same process then there will be delays and more delays because there's more business coming into that current system and that's a DMV process not a DOT process at all so it affects state police. So -- or we could go the route of everyone does their own privately provided background check process which is more of an audit. And then it relieves the burden. All right.
So depending on which way it goes there can or cannot be would or wouldn't be an impact on staffing and resources at DOT, DMV and or state police. But I can't tell you today what it is because the report doesn't provide a -- you know a road map to get there. But clearly that's something we need to consider because today I couldn't just turn on a new you know regulatory scheme. In fact we're struggling today with one inspector to do everything for the state of -- for DOT on our side and motor vehicle has just a few inspectors to do a statewide system of real performance in the field. And so if you want to guarantee safety then that's probably something that stretches us even today.
REP. GUERRERA: And to your point because I know this committee when we talked about school buses about a number of individuals trying to get drivers it took a long time for background checks, six to eight months at times. And it was very frustrating because obviously no one wants to wait around six or eight months to get a job and it was very frustrating on the part of the industry and we were trying to find other ways of how we could do these background checks but it was going through the state police.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Sure. Right.
REP. GUERRERA: So if we were to use an outsourcing in regards to background checks I mean one could say that obviously FBI checks might be better. One could say that you know another type of firm might pick up other things that FBI maybe didn't pick up. I'm not an expert on that. But maybe whatever we do here we need to have a look -- a look at this another few -- couple years down the road to see how this is all working too.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Yeah. Frankly I would -- I would say that even in today's environment. So what actually happens through that background check process and how many people are approved or not approved and is it effective or not and how long do we wait and are there improvements there? Alternatively on the private side you know are we clear that what's being checked is actually providing the results that we want?
And again as much as the researcher tried and I'd like to have it that wasn't available easily to influence the -- this report at this time. But going forward if we institute something I'd certainly recommend that it has a follow up action that says over the course of six months or a year or two years whatever it is, whatever you determine that we do an audit if you will of the actions we take to make sure that they're effective.
REP. GUERRERA: So with that, Commissioner, too then you know looking at the vehicle inspection one could say that if an individual decides to become an Uber driver that they would have to get a certification from a certified garage with the State of Connecticut or through DMV that would have to sign off that that vehicle has been properly inspected and is good to use on the roadway.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right. That is -- that is one of the options I think. If you take a look at other TNC providers they will actually have certified people that would go out and inspect the vehicles of their own but they're certified mechanics if you will, not a DMV certified garage. So there's -- again there's different approaches here. If you -- if you argue that everyone should have the same inspection or the same qualified inspection system then DMV certified garages might be the way to go there which are relatively available for people to get to and you know get in and out of. But again we have to take a look, make sure that that works and that there's a -- what is the checklist example? What do you need to get through? What does an inspection location have to actually look at to get certified -- get a vehicle certified? Because today even that is something we'd like -- I mean if you're going to do it, we need to specify what that list is.
REP. GUERRERA: And, Commissioner, you know and I state that because I know that in the construction all -- all trucks have to get a certified mechanic to sign off through an inspection process before every year they're put on the road.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right.
REP. GUERRERA: So I would think that if Uber drivers went through that I would think that's a pretty good analogy that they've done their job in regards to getting their vehicle inspected.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Understood. Yeah.
REP. GUERRERA: When we look at insurance, can you just tell me real quick in regards to what you thought process was on the insurance? I mean apparently you know we had an informational hearing on Uber maybe a month or two ago. I can't remember anymore but I talked about that they have insurance out there and all that. And I know that your report touches upon that, you know, there could be a gap in the insurance in regards to their personal lines versus commercial lines.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right.
REP. GUERRERA: What's the thought process on that?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: All right. So again this is maybe hypothetical because I don't know that there's been evidence of a problem but -- but obviously the personal, Uber driver has personal insurance that once they are in business so to speak on the commercial side there's a commercial policy that kicks in. And in between that a call is take to provide service and the ultimate call the question is is there an insurance gap where if something happened a commercial policy and a personal policy would be pointing fingers at each other.
You'd have to you know argue through who's responsible for that which then could lead to additional costs somewhere in the insurance system. And that's the concern. I haven't seen that that's a you know -- I haven't seen that happen anywhere with enough evidence to say for example if -- if another state, let's call it Colorado has done this and mandated that commercial coverage be provided at the time of call that that got rid of a problem and it saved people all kinds of insurance costs. I just don't know that.
But I understand the concern that there could be form an insurance industry point of view additional costs just simply because of the legal battles going back and forth it could affect other participant's rates. And that is a concern for me too that whatever we do we want to -- I don't want to have everybody in the current personal policy business or commercial policy business affected by cost because we haven't done this right.
REP. GUERRERA: All right, Commissioners, I know that -- I know our members have some questions here so I don't want to take up the majority of your time here. Senator Leone followed by Representative O'Dea. Okay. Senator Leone is going to pass. I'm going to hand it over to my good friend, Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good morning.
REP. O'DEA: On that insurance aspect from what -- I believe you testified that you don't see a problem right now.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: I have no evidence that there is. I understand the hypothetical argument that could be very real.
REP. O'DEA: My concern is we've got distracted driving going on and from what I understand the Uber insurance doesn't kick in until a passenger actually gets in to the vehicle. So Uber provides 50,000 as I understand it once they're -- the driver is on. And then the million dollars doesn't kick in until the passenger gets in. So while the Uber driver's driving, waiting for a passenger the insurance is in that middle range.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right.
REP. O'DEA: And then they may be looking at their phone. So my understanding is -- am I correct in that understanding that their million dollar insurance that mirrors the cab service doesn't kick in until the passenger gets in the vehicle?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: That's correct. That's my understanding as well. But the question of what is -- what is the driver doing and whether that's you know looking at a handheld device. That's -- I mean I'm not sure that's different between some taxi operations and Uber. I -- again I have no evidence to suggest it's much different. You know a taxi driver may be also looking at a map to get where they're going or taking calls for the next call whether that's a radio or a cell phone anymore.
This is a changing business on all sides and I mean it is -- distracted driving is a concern no matter what. How this gets implemented I must say I haven't taken an Uber ride or a taxi ride since I've been in Connecticut so I really don't know and the report doesn't clarify it for me enough to be able to answer what should happen or what does happen. So that I'm just telling you what the report does because I don't have any personal experience here.
REP. O'DEA: The -- the background checks, we had heard some testimony from the Uber representative. I forget her name. She did a very good job. Okay. Nicole. Thank you. What is your understanding as to the difference between the two? In other words how the taxicabs do background checks versus Uber. I haven't had a chance to go through the report. I apologize. But my understanding is basically what I could discern was that taxicabs are fingerprinted, Uber's not but Uber does a couple of extra searches, background checks through a third party that taxicab services don't. Is that your understanding?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Yeah. Right so it's fingerprinting and it's the FBI check and it's the you know -- the system we're using for -- to look at the personal background, the driver records, and looking through FBI records to make sure that we've got complete background checks done. Where that's done on the private sector side and doesn't have some of the same features but they have some different features. Again it's -- it's hard for me to know what the effect in this in the end because the goal is the same. The practice is different. I'm not sure they create different outcomes though they might. I just I don't know.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you. Now on inspections, I was able to glean quickly through the report that livery is not inspected and right now Uber's not inspected but cabs are. And our Connecticut buses are not at least as far as the State goes.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: No, Connecticut buses are -- we do get those -- they are inspected before they go into service. Depending on the size of the limo, they get inspected. But there is no Uber separate inspection around safety where there is for taxicab operators where there's a regularity and a requirement in terms of DMV authorized locations.
REP. O'DEA: All right. I stand corrected. There's -- on page six of the report it says the Legislature should revisit the issue of whether livery vehicles should have to meet these standards as well.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right.
REP. O'DEA: Talking about -- I believe that was talking about inspections.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right because there are some livery that are not and there are others that are -- so it's not consistent. And I think the entire report if I were to -- if you want to talk about -- make the hypothesis that whatever we do for one organization we should do for all then livery is an area that hasn't been fully vetted here in terms of what the impacts would be to livery nor are car pools and van pools that are also part of the same scheme. They're not just yet through that fully vetting or comprehensive review of what -- if we take on action then everyone is supposed to do the same thing and I'm not sure you should. I don't know that yet but if you do there are livery and -- and Uber vehicles and car pools and van pools that would need additional work to figure out what to do.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you. And I'm sorry. About the inspections of the buses we did have testimony from bus drivers that they didn't have inspections in their buses. Did you hear that testimony? Were you aware of that?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: No. I didn't hear the testimony but before any new bus is put into service it goes through a detailed inspection and then within the -- I know for all the vehicles that we operate they go through a regular -- it's a self inspection process but it's a detailed inspection and maintenance process but it's not at a -- not at a third party.
REP. O'DEA: All right. Thank you, Mr. Commissioner. I'm sure once I get through the report there will be more questions but I'll pass it for now. Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Senator Boucher.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Commissioner Redeker.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good morning.
SENATOR BOUCHER: It's great to see you here. I missed you on our tolling public hearing and I'm afraid. And -- but this is another controversial --
REP. GUERRERA: You'll have another opportunity. Trust me.
SENATOR BOUCHER: But this is another one of those controversial subjects this year in transportation. I mean my with the delivery based drones and with the Apple cars, Google Cars, the Tesla issues and so forth. And here we are with Uber. So life is changing very rapidly and the business sector and different technologies are coming forward faster every day. So it appears to me from what you have just said that you as a department have yet to really take a strong position one way or the other. And in fact this opens up the questions about other areas of livery that aren't necessarily consistent from one group to the next. Would you say that?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: So first on the department's position, that's true. In fact the report that was initiated was intentionally given to a third party. We were pleased that CCSU you know rose to that occasion because I didn't feel it was appropriate for the DOT to be looking at itself. And I think that that's a key piece that may not have been fully vetted because I must say that if -- if I were to start from scratch I probably wouldn't do the business the way we're doing it today. After all it's a vestige of the 1920s and -- and I think that in general things should be revisited much more frequently than that. And this is just one area that has not.
So as it -- it obviously from 1920 couldn't deal with what we're looking at today from a business model perspective and that's why I'm saying I think that independent look at where should we be regulatory wise in terms of a new business. How do you treat new business? How long do you give it a chance to grow or not grow before it's fully regulated? I don't know the answer. But that was part of why we issued this external report to take a look at what are other people doing and what should we be thinking about here. In the end I think if we did nothing else other than update the current regulations and performance of those duties everyone would be served better.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Well I truly appreciate that response quit honestly. And it shows that you're really you know thinking about the dynamic environment that we're functioning in. some of us travel out of state on our business and I will say that there are some major U.S. cities in the Midwest and in the south that actually have converted almost to 80 -- I ask when I'm traveling back and forth to the airport and basically they're -- some of them are 80 percent have moved over to Uber. In fact the taxi drivers in fact talk about how they're going to transfer themselves in another year or six months to that model.
So there's possibly as this evolves maybe a hybrid that might be created over time and I would say that it is definitely a challenge for the regulations side of this to really you know come out right away to just prohibit one system before we get to see how it plays out. Thank you very, very much.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: Representative Verrengia followed by Representative -- I'm losing my train of thought here -- Lavielle.
REP. VERRENGIA: Good morning, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good morning.
REP. VERRENGIA: How are you? I have a question as far as TNCs in general. In some states -- with this new emerging technology there have been some states that have addressed it by implementing regulations. And there's other states who have gone as far as ordering cease and desists primarily because they may be in violations of whatever those states' regulations are. My question is twofold. First can you clarify for me the role of the DOT under present regulations? And secondly in your opinion, what's presently happened is Uber in violation of our present statutes or regulations?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: So I -- this is -- this is again this is a focus of the report and an attempt I think at trying to decide whether or not current DOT regulatory authority is very prescribed around just taxis and limousines or could be expanded to include TNCs. I think the debate is still open the best I -- as I read the report and it isn't clear to say we are. It definitely -- have that responsibility and it's clear because of the way the business model itself is determined. And again I think it's because the -- you know when the regulations were written there were no such things as TNCs and it wasn't envisioned. And the question about whether they're ridesharing companies or technology companies versus taxi companies is the open definition question.
But it is clear that we do have some rules that are not being performed today with the TNCs including access to market, the initial licensing and registration pieces, the ongoing safety issues. This is DOT and DMV. So it's clear we're not doing some things. I think it's an open question and the report doesn't say clearly we have the authority. It leaves it wide open as to whether or not we do given the very different nature of the business as it's currently defined.
REP. VERRENGIA: And -- excuse me, I like you -- well maybe not like you but I just received this report as well.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Yeah.
REP. VERRENGIA: SO I haven't had a chance to -- to vet it. But what's -- what role is -- what role does the DMV -- DOT play specifically relative to this issue? What is the role of the DOT?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: So the -- initially it's a question of convenience, necessity and safety. Those are the three words I would say. So the first piece which I think relates to where we used to be in the -- in the moving company business is should there be X certain number of operators based on the market needs or -- and I think originally it was around trying to make sure that there was a business that was sustained, there wasn't artificial competition against a particular company or operator and that in the end customers got service. So that's one piece. You don't get into the business until first there's a business model.
Second there's a background to whether the company provides effective insurance, has the -- the financials behind the business to support it and then there's this sort of combined role where DOT and DMV start to get into the background checks. That's DMV. The ultimate licensing, the registrations and then field inspections where we go down on the path of trying to make sure that safety is occurring. So the -- really the first piece and most important part of the DOT business is the background on the business, the background in terms of the marketplace and whether there's a need for them and then we move into the partnership with DMV over the licensing registration, inspection and ultimate field inspection on an ongoing basis.
REP. VERRENGIA: And then one last question through you, Mr. Chair. So with respect to that process is it fair to say that as of up to this point Uber or any other TNC has not followed that process?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: That's absolutely correct.
REP. VERRENGIA: Okay. Thank you, Sir. I appreciate it.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Representative Lavielle.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good morning.
REP. LAVIELLE: Good morning, Commissioner. How are you?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good.
REP. LAVIELLE: Good to see you. It has occurred to me since we had the informational hearing that most of the reading material that we have gotten from all over the country has been with applicability to large cities where there are very active taxi companies, limousine companies and so on. We have a context in Connecticut outside the -- the larger cities where we have a lot of small towns where there are taxi services but basically if you're an older person, you don't drive anymore and a lot of people are getting a lot older and they don't drive anymore and they live a long time. There are group homes.
There are people who go to work who previously didn't used to go to work. A lot of people who don't drive in -- in a place where it's very difficult to get a taxi to begin with and to address that you know we started seeing some volunteer companies crop up like ITN or -- or some of the very local organizations that have been created by -- to help senior citizens get assistance. Clearly there's a need in those contexts. I just wondered how -- I have two questions for you. And the first one is, how -- how do you see that evolving? Do you see a different evolution for rideshare services -- commercial rideshare services in the small towns versus the different in a different regulatory context?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: I'm not sure it's different but it's clear that there's a -- there's a growing set of market needs and that could be young people or that could be older people. We're seeing this need or desire not to use a car to get to places and so there's this dependency on whether it's you know cars that you hire over the weekend or ridesharing services or taxi services. There does appear to be a place where there's growing need and many places where there's not enough service.
And so the question of what response to that market and in some -- in some sense the current regulated environment and -- and where -- where in fact a business could be successful may preclude some of these markets you're talking about. And so we're seeing startup companies like volunteer companies you know having senior citizens volunteer to drive other senior citizens around. And that raises all kinds of questions too.
REP. LAVIELLE: Yes it does.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: How are they regulated and how are they insured and are they safe. And it's -- I guess it might be similar to some of the things we're looking at with TNCs in a different way. I think in the end there's some real needs that what we're -- the historic if you will or the current taxi market has been serving well which is you know in reasons where they're operating, where they want to operate and they're serving.
They serve around the clock. They need they have to serve everyone who needs a ride. There's accessibility issues there. That's important. But there obviously seems to be needs that aren't being met and they're being picked up by others. And so it really raise the question for me, where are we going? And if in the future there's a lot more people going to be old and apparently young people coming in that also don't want to drive, then how do you fix all of that?
I don't have an answer to that but I'm watching these emergent and it's fascinating to watch. But every time we see it we do see questions -- same questions popping up. How can you be sure that the driver who's driving is safe, the people in the car are safe or the vehicle are safe and what is the role of you know state and regulatory agencies overseeing those?
And that's somewhat different than -- maybe not but somewhat different perhaps than the more formalized carpooling ridesharing services where someone would -- actually DOT oversees that too but we pair people up over similar you know places they want to come to or come from or to. And -- and they are matched in terms of a service whether that's in a van or a carpool. But that's again a different model than we see for taxis and a different model than what TNCs are doing.
REP. LAVIELLE: Do you happen to know if the volunteer services and a commercial rideshare service fall in the same bucket in terms of liability?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: I do not. I do know that the liability question is out there for all the volunteer services the same as we're talking about it here. You know a concern that there is this backstop from a liability point of view that everyone has that's -- that protects people effectively is important.
REP. LAVIELLE: Well the second question that I have is regards to the -- the report and the process. I obviously haven't read the whole thing but I've kind of glanced at it and -- and I see they've got seven options at the end that they think might be considerations for regulatory frameworks. And I think I understood you to say this morning that you don't feel we have enough concrete data yet to make a choice between or among those alternatives. So -- and -- and I think that was what you said. And if -- if it was and if wasn't you'll tell me but if it was how do you see the process of coming to a recommendation evolving from now on? Would you see collecting some concrete data? Would you see giving it some time? How do you see that working? What would you say we should do?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: So what I said was that for me I like to make decisions with concrete data, real empirical data. I don't always get that opportunity and sometimes I have to make choices without it. You may be in that position here to take action this session. It's just that's where we are. We don't have a lot of data. And so going forward what I'm recommending is that whatever action we take first is clearly defined, that there's some steps and some very clear actions that we can implement and that we look to those steps to collect data we don't have.
So that could happen on the front end of the process where we find out who the -- who drivers are and we can actually understand the numbers and the impacts. That could be in the process and getting data from both sides about what kind of service is being provided and is it complementary or complimentary or in competition and then in the end what's safe. What's happening and what are the options. So I think the going forward piece no matter what needs to have a feedback loop to keep informing us about whether what actions we take are effective or could be more effective down the road.
And given the changing nature of the things you've mentioned and we've already talked about in this -- in this sort of area I see this changing over quite some time for a long time and we need to be flexible there.
REP. LAVIELLE: I think it will but I also feel that given the way our demographics are changing they're almost hurdling forward into some other form that they've been in for the past several decades. And it may be that in this case the market and its evolution is going to overtake any regulatory initiatives we might sort of come to on our own. I'm not sure what you do about that but I think that this is going to move forward extremely, extremely quickly and whatever we can put in place to deal with it I think we have interest at least in -- in defining some sort of formwork so that we can monitor it and -- and master it.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Representative Janowski.
REP. JANOWSKI: Thank you. My question has to do again with liability on the -- the individual driver. We know that if -- if that individual now has a dual purpose and the car is being used as a dual purpose car. There is -- there will be much -- many more trips, more risk, multiple passengers at any given time in that particular vehicle. So there is a great deal of added risk. And we also know that for example currently an individual policy for example if your rates are determined based on the proximity to work, your daily trips to work and also business usage, business miles. But we're talking about one individual.
Is there or how would we know that the person is using that vehicle for a dual purpose and is there currently a requirement to disclose that to the insurance company so that the commuter is not saddled with having to pay for the increased risk overall as the company attains more drivers and it becomes a lot bigger than it currently is?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Several -- several things I think but first there is this difference between private insurance -- private coverage for private and personal use versus the commercial use. And at this point there is no process for declaring that or registering that way up front in terms of what we know. So that's a -- an open area and frankly there's some recommendations in the report about should that be part of what happens. Dual plates -- you know dual plates or -- or you know some identification on a license about serving in those capacities and then how does that get reported to an insurance company and how is that tracked over time vis a vis rates.
The issue about exposure here for ratepayers whether that's the driver ratepayer or the user who's paying fees or ultimately all of us who are paying insurance and where does that burden fall in this industry is I think a concern for everybody that we want to protect people, we want to make sure that we don't over expose all ratepayers but that we have mechanisms in place. What I think gets to trying to clearly define who's in this marketplace that needs coverage and making sure that it's comprehensive in nature to protect everyone on -- you know in the -- in the mix there.
REP. JANOWSKI: And the reason I bring that up is I think if -- if we go that route there has to be some mechanism in there to make it mandatory and subject to fines if the dual use is not disclosed. I can recall many years ago when my children were small we were carpooling. I was using my car for carpooling and I had to disclose that to my insurance company and they did increase my rate.
But I took responsibility for that. And when kids become teenagers even though they're away at college parents are mandated by insurance company to still cover them at a very expensive rate just to make sure that they don't have the excess liability to incur that they would then have to pass on to consumers in general. So I think those are things that have to be in there. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Yeah. Understood. And one of the questions that's not here because we don't know the answer is how many people are we talking about in this capacity? So that's -- that's one of those data points that we just do not know.
REP. GUERRERA: All set, Representative? Thank you. Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning still, Commissioner. Obviously as we're trying to figure out what we need to do here with this new service coming into the State, the fact that they are here means we do have to try and figure something out. And one of the questions that was brought up that I think you pretty much answered was of the seven options you know what can we do here. You haven't been able to flush that out because things are moving so quickly. But assuming we pick one or a combination of these options how fast would DOT be able to act in terms of then implementing one or two of these options and then what kind of staffing would you need in order to make it workable? We don't want to give you any kind of a mandate and then not give you the tools to be able to do it.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: All right. So just in general any time we get a charge we do it immediately. Just for the record. But again I can't --
REP. GUERRERA: Remember he said that, guys.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: We try anyway. But I really can't answer the question. There may be actions that are recommended -- and by the way the seven I could probably come up with 80 from this report but those are just samples and that's why it's so complicated. But without a prescription here I don't know how to fill it. And that is a concern. So there may be actions -- I mean there's a series of actions that would have absolutely you know no material impact on the DOT other than perhaps an audit function.
And there are others that are very comprehensive and would require additional staff not just for me but for DMV and potentially for state police. I have you know concerns about that because we're trying to keep it as lean as we possibly can. Some things could actually be improved by just improving the process and automating things. But in fact in real terms as I think about it -- I'll give you an example, field inspections of actual performance meaning inspectors have to go out and stop cars or vehicles, check them and see if they're meeting all the requirements and that is very, very labor intensive. And when those happen that gives you real data about real performance in the field and that's what matters.
But that's something that we're well understaffed to do on a -- on a comprehensive basis particularly given and I think it was Senator Boucher who talked about this is a very different model where a statewide regulatory authority not just a local place, not just the city. So this is a very broad mandate that we're overseeing right now and to do it comprehensively even today would require a lot more resources than we currently have.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you for that. I like the fact that you mentioned that whatever we do we would try to give you some authority to revisit in a number of years actually fewer versus more so that we could react to whatever the changing circumstances are and I think that's very important and I'm sure the committee will make sure we put that kind of language in there. At the same time right now current service for taxis, liveries, or whatever, if there is a problem and they can't rectify it with the current provider they do have the ability to go through the State if there's any complaints. Correct?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: That's correct.
SENATOR LEONE: But with these new services whether it's Uber, Lift or any of the type of ridesharing to my knowledge that's not correct. They can't come to the State if they can't rectify it with the provider. Is --
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Absolutely right. I mean I suppose they could always go to consumer affairs but there isn't a direct responsibility in regulation to go after that. and again that -- that was one of my opening remarks is that the customer satisfaction, the customer service and any problems there whether it's good or bad there needs to be I think a model for us to understand what's happening good or bad, follow up on the bad, improve it so we get better service for everybody.
SENATOR LEONE: I agree wholeheartedly with you and I thank you for that. I'll keep my comments short. I'll move it along. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator Leone. Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Mr. Commissioner, sorry I had to step out for a moment there. But if you were to pick ways that you wanted to regulate them what would you do?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: So I -- we talked to -- I had talked to -- I've been talking about this because really I was hoping to have a little bit more to drive that opinion on. I really was. And I -- it's just not there right now. So let me start with --with two easy things because I think they might be easy as suggestions. And I just began to touch on them before you came in I think. And that one is -- one is the question of how does someone register and what kind of plates do they have. So we have things called combo plates and maybe that's something -- at least get a handle on who's out there and what they're doing and people would know that the car they're getting into is something that's been registered for that purpose.
And that second piece may be that the driver piece of it, the driver licensing may also have something that says I'm a driver and I'm licensed to do this because I've applied to do this so that there's ways we can start to get at who's -- you know who's doing this, how many there are, and any issues that come up. But those are two simple first steps that I might consider.
REP. O'DEA: Well I think maybe we'll stick you in a room with our Chairman and we'll take our Chairman's lead and get this thing worked out. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: I think it takes others to do that and I'm happy to work with anybody on that.
REP. O'DEA: I think there's a few people behind you that would like to be in that room too. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Exactly.
REP. GUERRERA: Why does everyone want to stick me in a room with somebody? You know am I that tough sometimes? I wonder. I really do. Senator Kennedy.
SENATOR KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good morning.
SENATOR KENNEDY: I'm interested in how your department is thinking about providing accessible transportation for people with disabilities. I looked in your report. I'm sorry. I just got this report literally 15 minutes ago. But you know I am -- I'm just concerned about this new business model, this transportation networking companies. And because people are independent contractors I'm wondering what their obligation is? We live in an older state, expanding population for people with disabilities transportation is a key issue. We know that. Currently Metro Taxi as you know provides a wheelchair accessible service to people in the Greater New Haven area.
At least I know that may be in existence for -- in other parts of the State. But how do you think about that? How do you think about you know a new service like this being able to meet the equivalency standards so that people with disabilities are not left out of these new regulatory regime that we're contemplating?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Sure. Great point. And it is -- it is an important one. I'd go more broadly to the overall question of accessibility. We do oversee an extensive ADA paratransit system mandated by the federal government on our bus system, paralleling all of that service with a rather extensive network to provide accessibility for those who can't use the public transit system. So for those -- but that's a geographically specific service around where buses operate so that's got limitations and a lot of places don't have service.
And I'll talk about the current regulatory environment where taxi companies who want to and demonstrate the need and need equipment or more equipment that's accessible that goes through an approval process although anyone can provide or change out a fleet and -- and od that with accessible vehicles if they'd like. That's not necessarily part of the TNC model but it is part of some. So it depends on which company it is. There are models that have an accessible vehicle framework but it's not uniform. And I think that that's an important question as we go forward. Should it be a requirement? To what degree should it be a requirement? And how is that overseen because I think it's fair to say that you know where -- where service is provided it should be open to everybody.
SENATOR KENNEDY: Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you for that question, Senator Kennedy. It was very important. I appreciate you asking about that. Representative Scanlon.
REP. SCANLON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Commissioner, for being here today with us on this issue. When I drafted this bill the primary reason for me doing it was some of the issues that you mentioned in the report and I'm -- I'm really glad that you, your staff and CCSU took the time to do it. But I want to talk specifically about the background check item here. And one of the things that came up in the informational hearing was that Uber uses its own private company that they contract with whereas most people use the Live Scan FBI technology.
And one of the things that is my understanding of the benefit of a Live Scan is number one you're using fingerprints which is more comprehensive and number two it's a literal live scan so it updates in real time and there's been a lot of reports about how let's say that somebody did pass a background check and then a week or two later they were employed somewhere, they committed a crime, that company in this case Uber would not know about that whereas somebody who perhaps is one of your bus drivers was to commit a crime your agency would be you know in -- knowledgeable of that issue.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Correct.
REP. SCANLON: And they would, you know take the proper actions. So can you speak a little bit about this issue because I think that one of the main reasons that I think we're all here and concerned about this today is because your agency sets an expectation for the public that they can trust that the train that they're going to get on, the bus that they're going to get on, the plane that they're going to get on are safe.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right.
REP. SCANLON: And so can you speak a little bit about how you feel about you know perhaps using a Live Scan like system would make people feel safer?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: I think -- the current system with the Live Scan brings with it that sense of safety. It's been used a long time. It is thorough. It does its job. It is cumbersome and that's its downside and maybe that's an area that we could improve at some point as a collective state set of organizations. On the private side there are -- there have been suggestions and these -- again this is where the -- the -- this report currently doesn't go that far but that in fact there are connections that can be made into that private -- the privated if you will background checks so that they are updated. And if we know who's in the system right if we get to that point, that we could have live if you will updates and -- and try to go after it.
The question of how do you actually do that when a person is part of a big network and not part of a place where they report to work every day, how do you get there is an open question. Because even if you had it then you'd have to go you know after -- find that person and it would be a rather big job I think to enforce something on a regular basis. So we'd have to think about who would do that, how would that happen and if that data came up then which organization goes to find that individual as opposed to the company that administers it like in our case.
REP. SCANLON: Great. Thank you. And then just a quick follow up question. What -- what steps do -- does your agency take to then discipline people or move people who have been found guilty or arrested for crimes that we would not want those people driving those modes of transportation?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Right. So obviously there's different levels of -- of what happens and so there's suspensions, there's follow ups or there's just dismissal depending on the severity. We can get you the details on what that hierarchy is.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Representative Arce followed by Representative Sayers.
REP. ARCE: Good morning, Commissioner.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Good morning.
REP. ACE: I just was looking at this report and it's just one thing here that I keep going back to. Just going back -- back to it is just driving me nuts. But I'm big when it comes to safety, public safety, insurance, and licensing and inspection especially of the safety of the people of Connecticut. but on the report on page 11 maybe I'm misunderstanding this a taxi is defined on CGA section 244A specially on section 13B-95 taxicab is defined as any motor vehicle operated on any street or highway or on call or demand a (inaudible) soliciting passenger and is criminally for transportation for hire between such point along streets or highway as may be directed by the passenger or passengers being transported. Isn't this exactly what Uber is doing it's just not regulated to them? Am I correct?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: The answer is it's similar but I think different in some aspects but from the perspective that someone wants to go from a point A to point B and someone's providing that service for a fee they are similar.
REP. ARCE: They are similar. One answer that I got prior was that taxicab is you know, is a company you call for services and -- and so on which is different from Uber. But how can it be different when it's just the app. The difference is just the app. You know you call one company and you go on the app on the other. You see what I'm saying?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Well --
REP. ARCE: So you -- you -- number one you're providing the same -- you're providing the same services and you are being called on the phone on one and using an app to contact the other so.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Well there are differences and that's what makes it a little complex. So there's a -- you know in a taxi environment there's a company that's licensed to do business in a certain area. They provide that service round the clock. They have to provide service to everybody who calls them. You don't necessarily know where that call is going to take you. And -- and there's rules that follow them and they have to do it and it's a -- that's regulated. on the Uber side you actually make a -- you know you apply for a specific trip between two points and that -- you know that takes place in -- you know on a real time basis.
You -- you are told essentially what the fee is going to be and you accept it. You take that trip but it's not necessarily you know planned ahead. It can be done on the fly but it's not a company that has a prescribed territory or is regulated. So it does have differences and you know it depends on which -- which -- which direction you want to go I can say they're different or the same. In concept they're providing similar services but in different environments.
REP. ARCE: Thank you, Commissioner. I did have some other questions but we do need to move on and I appreciate your answer. Thank you so much.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative Arce. Representative Sayers.
REP. SAYERS: Thank you. Commissioner, you called them an independent contractor. And my understanding of an independent contractor is that you cannot work for only one employer. So if they work under Uber how does that qualify them as an independent contractor?
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: That's beyond -- I didn't call them that but -- but -- and I -- so I really don't -- I really can't answer that in terms of how that would be defined.
REP. SAYERS: Thank you. But -- and when you testified you talked about them being an independent contractor so. Because -- and actually that's a very important answer to be me because I have another bill in another committee that's looking at the definition of an independent contractor. And based on that bill that's been through a couple of committees and a couple of year it's been up here I would say that they don't meet the definition of an independent contractor and that becomes very problematic in terms of this legislation so thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative Sayers. Any other comments? Thank you, Commissioner, for your time.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: I would ask you if you could hang out a little bit just in case there might be some questions that remain.
COMMISSIONER JAMES REDEKER: Happy to hang out.
REP. GUERRERA: Well there you go. You're so accommodating. I will have to -- unfortunately we are past the first hour so I will go to the public next and then go back. So let me start out with Matt Daus. Is Matt here? Matt. He had to leave. Okay. Senator McLachlan. I thought you were back on our committee there for a second, Senator, where you were sitting.
SENATOR McLACHLAN: You have a full house today, Mr. Chairman. I'm Senator Mike McLachlan. I represent the 24th district; Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield, Sherman. And I am here to testify in favor of Representative Scanlon's bill, House Bill 6349, AN ACT CONCERNING RIDESHARING COMPANIES AND DRIVERS. So the primary concern of mine is liability and let me just lay out a few areas of liability concern that I've identified. I just this morning as I was walking in the door got a copy of the study by the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University on this topic. They do concur with some of my concerns and didn't mention others which I'll clarify.
So if I'm an individual and have a -- a car that is insured in the State of Connecticut I have to fill out a form to get car insurance. That application form for insurance requires me to disclose what I'm going to use the car for, how many miles I estimate driving per year and whether or not I use it for commuting and will I use the car for commercial purposes. A personal car is not used for commercial purposes and it grated a lower price of insurance for personal use versus commercial use.
So if I then proceed to use this car for Uber I'm in violation of my insurance policy because I have not disclosed that I'm a taxi driver or a rideshare operator on my policy. Should I disclose rideshare or taxi use of my vehicle I can't have a personal policy. I have to have a commercial policy in the State of Connecticut. And in the State of Connecticut due to regulations I can't get a commercial insurance policy for rideshare or taxi service without a license.
So that's my first concern. I'm violating my insurance policy. Now Uber says well we've got you covered. We're going to have a blanket policy that covers you when you're not driving an Uber client and we'll pick up the insurance then. Well that whole idea breaks down too because if I haven't notified my insurance company what I'm doing and I file a claim and Uber even is willing to pay part of the claim I'm going to get cancelled. Why? Because I didn't tell my insurance company what I was doing with the car. And when they discover that it was used for commercial purposes they're going to cancel the policy and now I'm in the risk pool.
Has anyone had a child or even themselves been subject to the risk pool in insurance? It's an expensive proposition. One other point. I heard the bell. Very important point. Has not been mentioned in the study although I haven't been able to read the entire thing cover to cover. But I believe this to be an equally important liability issue. Now when I buy an automobile or I lease an automobile in Connecticut I sign a loan agreement or a lease agreement.
Now regardless of whether it's an individual bank, one of the big banks or it's one of the captive insurance -- captive finance companies like Ford Motor Credit or Chrysler or even Mercedes Benz Credit. Are there any Mercedes Benz on Uber? I'm not sure. But if I've signed that lease or loan agreement and I've read it, it says in that lease or loan agreement that I'm using the vehicle for personal use.
So if I'm doing Uber with this vehicle that has a lease or a loan on it I have violated that agreement as well. Now if you want to buy a car for commercial purposes or a truck and use it for commercial purposes and you fully disclose that you're subject to a different agreement for liability reasons, the language is different in those contracts when you're buying something for commercial purposes and you're obviously going to be subject to a commercial insurance policy.
So those are two very important things. First the insurance, the risk and frankly getting thrown into the risk pool if there's a claim. And two, I violated a lease or loan agreement and so now I've broken two contracts. And I don't believe Uber has addressed this appropriately and they should. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Senator, did you hand in testimony?
SENATOR McLACHLAN: I did.
REP. GUERRERA: Could you just you know later on just have a copy of your testimony sent to all of us if you would please.
SENATOR McLACHLAN: I will.
REP. GUERRERA: Any questions? Thank you, Senator.
SENATOR McLACHLAN: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: All right. We're going to go right to the public now. That was our last public official. So let me start off with Ernest Paglieri. Ernest. Come on down. You can sit right over here, Ernie. Thank you. Just press the button and just state your name and go ahead.
ERNEST PAGLIERI: Ernest Paglieri. I'm here from Greenwich Taxi and a lot of people are here to complain that our business has been decreased the last year very, very badly. Making less money. And we're going through the proper credentials, insurance processes that are passed by the State. And these gypsies are in here coming in and low balling the prices. And also they take advantage on bad weather days to the people which I could never work for Uber. To charge a person double, two and a half times the amount of money on a bad day. That should be regulated also. The public should not be subject to that. They're like thieves. But the main thing is I'm complaining that I've lost a lot of business. It's a struggle out there. From ten hours a day I've got to put in 14 just to make a living. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Ernie. Ernie, you're with Greenwich Taxi is it?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: Yes.
REP. GUERRERA: Is it -- now just help me out here. Is it your own personal car or is it -- do you use their car?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: Everyone has their own car.
REP. GUERRERA: So own car. Okay. Personal car.
ERNEST PAGLIERI: We pay insurance and we pay all the bills and all the expenses. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any comments? Ernie, hold on one second. Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Do you -- are you an employee of Greenwich Taxi or are you an independent contractor?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: Independent contractor.
REP. O'DEA: And how long have you been there?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: Twenty years.
REP. O'DEA: So do you pay for your own insurance?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: Yes.
REP. O'DEA: And that's a commercial policy?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: Yes, through the Greenwich Taxi. Group insurance.
REP. O'DEA: Do you know -- do you pay the cost or does Greenwich Taxi make a little money off of what you pay for that insurance? Do you know? Is it direct pass on to you?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: I don't know but I pay every week to the company.
REP. O'DEA: And do you have your own -- do you have two separate policies then? You have a commercial policy for being a cab driver and then you have a personal policy for your own car when you're not driving a cab?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: I just have the cab. I don't have another vehicle.
REP. O'DEA: Is there anybody else in your family that has a vehicle? Are they insured under a different policy?
ERNEST PAGLIERI: No. I'm single.
REP. O'DEA: All right. Thank you very much.
ERNEST PAGLIERI: You're welcome.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative O'Dea. Any other comments? Thank you, Ernest.
ERNEST PAGLIERI: All right. This light is still on do I press the button again?
REP. GUERRERA: That's all right. John Caputo. John. Morning, John. Still one more minute.
JOHN CAPUTO: Yeah. John Caputo and I'm with Greenwich Taxi also. And I'd like to say that Uber -- I don't like Uber. They make my job a lot harder. I'm a dispatcher. I've been with the company for 30 years. Drove five years. I would hate it ever more if was a driver. Now we're I lower Fairfield County so we see a lot of the New York Ubers picking up Connecticut to Connecticut which I don't understand because we never send cars to pick up New York to New York except for lower Fairfield County.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, John. Any comments? Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Just to understand, when you say you hate Uber the reason for that is because of what exactly?
JOHN CAPUTO: Well because they make my job harder. It's less work, less work to give out to these guys like Ernie stated. He has to work 14 hours to make a living. Less calls.
REP. O'DEA: Do you have a system in place for an app that allows your customers to --
JOHN CAPUTO: Yes we do. Yes we do. People are registering for it so. We're just starting up on it. I mean we've got about 300 people registered so we're starting to get calls. Yeah we provide that service too.
REP. O'DEA: So I guess my point is -- listen, I'm from New Canaan so I know the area. You know it's not Greenwich but you know I like the community. But I will tell you it's hard to get a cab there coming off of the train station so the fact you've got an app should be helpful for your customers to -- to --
JOHN CAPUTO: Well we've got a lot of cars too so.
REP. O'DEA: Yeah. There's a lot more cars there than --
JOHN CAPUTO: There's always a line there so people have no trouble coming off the train to get a cabs unless it was like this morning, snow.
REP. O'DEA: All right. Thank you very much, Sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative O'Dea. Representative Scanlon.
REP. SCANLON: Sir, before you -- before you take off one thing over here.
JOHN CAPUTO: Yes.
REP. SCANLON: How are you doing? Good morning. Quick question for you. If you were to take a passenger from Fairfield County over to West Chester because that's where they wanted to go, would you as a Connecticut cab driver be able to then pick somebody up in West Chester and drive them back to Fairfield County if they were just hailing you on the side of the street?
JOHN CAPUTO: No.
REP. SCANLON: You would not.
JOHN CAPUTO: They'd have to request us.
REP. SCANLON: they would have to request you. And because that's a licensing issue. Right? You're not a licensed to be able to drive people in New York State?
JOHN CAPUTO: Right.
REP. SCANLON: Got it. Okay. Thank you so much.
JOHN CAPUTO: You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Representative Wilms.
REP. WILMS: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Sir, for your testimony. I -- I represent Norwalk so I'm familiar with Metro North and lower Fairfield County. Just from your experience why -- why do you think more people are taking Uber? I mean what -- what is it that they see in them that maybe you know that -- that's different? And I'm wondering is there something maybe from your side -- is there something you could do differently?
JOHN CAPUTO: Maybe they're low balling the price. I don't know. I mean you know we got to -- I don't know.
REP. WILMS: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative, for that question. Any other comments? Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Sir, I am -- John, I'm downloading your -- is it Greenwich Taxi? I'm downloading your app now and checking it out. Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you.
JOHN CAPUTO: You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, John. Thank you for your time and thank you for waiting. Mary Alice Leonhardt.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Good morning, members of the committee. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today. I'm an attorney in Connecticut. I've represented taxicab and livery companies, many of which are represented here today for more than 25 years. And I'm intimately familiar with all of the statutes and regulations that govern the operations of these companies. To answer Representative Arce's question, what is the difference between an Uber or smart app based company and the taxicabs and livery. The answer is nothing.
The taxicab companies hold certificates. The drivers are employees. The drivers are independent contractors. It varies from company to company. There are companies that have a one owner operator and there are companies that have you know 50 or more drivers. Drivers get hails on demand from customers through various mechanisms. In the taxi and livery industry it's done through a two way radio dispatch system, phone calls, cell phones, smart apps and GPS. The drivers themselves also develop personals which means a person relationship with a rider and they merely communicate with their regular riders and transport them on demand.
Payment for taxi and livery is done through cash and credit card. Uber and smart app companies like -- like Uber called ridesharing companies are essentially providing a different, more modernized dispatch service. That is the only difference. I would say though that because their drivers are set up in such a way with the smart apps they only take credit card payments. So that leaves the average rider in Connecticut who may or may not have a credit card without the ability to use these cars because the drivers can't take cash.
Representative Kennedy asked an excellent question, what about the wheelchair accessibility of the cars? The taxicabs and livery drivers in Connecticut are required to be nondiscriminatory and if they discriminate against anyone whether they're blind, in a wheelchair, hearing impaired they can be cited individually and the companies can be cited as well. And I've handled hearings where there are citation hearings where there have been offenses and companies and drivers have been ticketed and fined.
And because of that system which works, it's a very rare occurrence. The other thing that hasn't been brought out is well why are more people taking Uber? The reason they're raking Uber is because Connecticut's consumers believe that these cars are amply insured, that the drivers have been vetted properly like taxi and livery drivers have been and that the -- the Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles is -- is regulating the drivers which we know they are not.
And if I may just point out one other thing that hasn't been brought up, I realize the bell's gone off. I direct your attention to my testimony which has been prefiled. I direct you to page 17, 18 and 19 of the Connecticut Taxicab Regulations which speaks to the public service license that every taxi and livery driver must have in order to provide ride for hire services. These PSA licenses exist once a driver is qualified through a very comprehensive medical examination by a certified medical examiner usually an MD, a chiropractor, an osteopath and nurse practitioners who perform extensive evaluations.
These include evaluation for physical and mental capacity, hearing, visual acuity, the absence of epilepsy, the absence of a current cardiac condition, the absence of a current alcohol problem, the absence of a substance abuse problem, certification by doctors who may have a driver on certain prescriptions that qualify the driver to drive anyway. These are very important regulations that are in place that haven't been mentioned and are in addition to the criminal background checks.
REP. GUERRERA: Excuse me. Thank you. I just -- we got to try to keep it to the three minute time limit. I usually give you some time.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: No I appreciate you sending the testimony too for all of us to -- to read. Representative Arce.
REP. ARCE: Good afternoon.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Good afternoon.
REP. ARCE: Thank you for being here today. I just got one -- one question that I need clarification on. And I don't know if I was hearing correctly but the gentleman that testified earlier mentioned that he is a contractor to what company was it?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Greenwich Taxi.
REP. ARCE: Greenwich Taxi. And that they pay their own insurance and their own expenses and there's a take home car which he has 24 hour a day.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Yes.
REP. ARCE: So being that -- that he's driving around 24 hours a day with that car even when he's off duty I believe. I mean correct me if I'm wrong. Is he covered under the insurance of the company at that time -- during all that time even when he's off duty?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: He would be covered 24 hours under the insurance policy that is on that car. Yes.
REP. ARCE: Which is paid by him.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Well the -- the insurance is paid by the driver. He has access to a commercial policy that is made available to the drivers. The company has the insurance policy available to the drivers or the drivers may secure their own commercial insurance independently. So it's an option for a driver and if the driver chooses to take advantage of group purchasing through the company's insurance policy they may do so but they're not required to do so.
They have the option of securing their own commercial insurance separately but wasn't an option is no commercial insurance. And unlike the Uber drivers or the other rideshare companies who don't have that requirement on the drivers, these drivers can't operate a ride for hire service without having a commercial coverage in place.
REP. ARCE: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative, for that question. Representative Morin followed by Representative Wilms.
REP. MORIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your testimony. This is -- I've been listening to everyone reading as much as I can. I'll be honest before we started with this I wasn't overly aware of Uber. And -- so I think -- would you agree that we're dealing with a consumer, customer driver business. Right?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: That is correct.
REP. MORIN: And we should be looking for the consumer. My -- I think my role here and many of us is that we -- we want to look out for the consumer. One of the things that concerns me the most though -- and I guess I have to ask you, are the services similar? Right?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Between the -- or these --
REP. MORIN: Uber and -- right.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: -- rideshare companies?
REP. MORIN: Yeah.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: They're absolutely similar. What they're -- what they've been able to do is provide a modern technology which makes it easier for a customer who wants a taxi ride to get a taxi. Many of the companies that I represent have smart apps. So they're using smart apps. They have two way radio dispatch. They have cell phone dispatch. And they're -- and there's a GPS system in this State which also makes it available to the drivers and -- and the companies are able to identify where the cars are to -- to allow for easy and quick access for a consumer.
In addition to that there are the usual, traditional flag downs. Taxi. Taxi. Which my children are very good at and got very good at at a young age. So that doesn't -- that still exists as well. But the Uber drivers and those that operate in companies like that for example Lift which is no longer in this State, they operate only with the smart apps. And we can easily identify these drivers because when the customers come out of the train station or they come out of the airport they're staring at their phone to figure out where the car is.
And the car for example at an airport is sitting outside in the usual line where you as a private person would go to pick up a family member of friend. And why is that? Because they're not allowed in the line where the taxi and livery cars are allowed under contractual arrangements. So we know that they're essentially a different type of dispatch service but they're -- they're arranging, coordinating and providing transportation services on demand in addition to their livery which is scheduled rides.
REP. MORIN: And I mean I -- I believe that competition is good but do you feel -- I mean based on the testimony I always like to think of things on a level playing field. What are your thoughts on that?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Right.
REP. MORIN: Do you -- this -- do you consider right now the two businesses on the level playing field?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Absolutely not. Connecticut has been a regulated environment. The environment has been saturated with taxi -- taxi companies and cars, authorities. I represent companies in hearings all the time where in order to get an additional pad to put into your fleet or to start up a new company among other things such as financial suitability, compliance with insurance requirements, the company has to demonstrate there's a public convenience and necessity that cannot be met by the existing operators in the service area.
And what we know is -- and you're going to hear from all these taxi drivers that are here in this room today is that there is not enough work to go around. Now there are periods of peak demand but when you take those periods of peak demand off the table the taxi drivers are lined up at the airports, at the train stations, at some taxi stands that exist, at the colleges, the schools in the cities, on the streets with no work. And many of these drivers are depending on the calls for service to support their lease payment back to the company and to put food on the table for their families, to pay their rent, to pay their insurance.
And allowing the -- a company like these ridesharing companies to come into Connecticut without subjecting them to scrutiny number one priority, are they safe for consumers and passengers to be riding in these personal vehicles that haven't been inspected, where the driver has not been subjected to an FBI or state police background check like the drivers of our companies are. Is that safe? Now I would like to say that the regulations for all of this already exists.
There is -- there was a study done in 2006 by the legislative review committee. It was authorized by a public act that was passed in I believe 2006. It was public act 06133. The legislative program view and investigations committee studied this extensively and I believe if my memory serves me correctly it came on the heels of a taxicab that had bad brakes going down Avon Mountain and created a horrific crash where many people were -- were killed along with a complaint by a governor's chief of staff related person, I think it was Mama Jo, who complained that she had been price gouged by a driver. So the legislative review commission did an extensive study on taxi and livery.
Regulations and statutes were updated and I hope that this committee will take some of the findings of that taskforce into account as well as this report that's just been issued. I've not myself had an opportunity to read it because it hasn't been made available until this morning to the taxicab and livery community which is unfortunate because we would have more to bring to you today if we had had it before this morning.
REP. MORIN: Well -- and again I'm thinking of the consumers and some of the things that just jump out at me -- and I -- is I'm concerned about the safety of -- of the people that are utilizing these services. And -- and I'm also concerned about the businesses. Again I'm not -- I can't say anything bad about one or the other. I don't want to but I mean we have rules in place that the majority of our folks that provide these services have to abide by. And I -- and I think we need to look at equity across the board and I -- you know I have friends that have used Uber. I have friends that use taxis. And I think that some of the things I'm hearing -- you mentioned about the FBI background checks that your folks have to go through.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Yes.
REP. MORIN: But reading through some of the issue -- some of the paperwork that we've been provided Uber people are saying the same thing that their people have to go through background checks and -- and I guess what I want -- we could sit here all day and -- and one side's going to say one thing, and one side's going to say the other but getting people into a room and making -- making sure that the consumers of the State of Connecticut are being driven in safe vehicles, as safe as possible by people that have gone through whatever background checks we make everybody else go through and going through a process that's consistent is what I want to see out of this.
I don't know where everybody else is but that's -- that's what I'd like to see. So I appreciate your testimony. I'll listen to -- and I -- I have to listen to what everybody else has to say. That's the important thing of this job. But I do have some concerns. And I'll -- I guess I'll reserve. But thank you for the time, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative Morin.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: I appreciate those comments and I will say that first and foremost it is the consumer out there that has to be safe and I think that's why this committee will look at some of the recommendations that the Commissioner has mentioned in regards to liability insurance, inspections and background checks. And I think you would agree with that. Correct, Mary?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: I would. In fact with regard to the background check the taxi and livery operators and the owners when they first establish a company are subjected to the FBI and state police clearance. Currently the FBI background check takes three weeks. The state police check takes about eight weeks. We know from the casino industry gaming license background checks they can do it in ten days. So if they can do it in ten days I think this committee could certainly work with the industry and we could facilitate a process for all of the ridesharing companies to be subjected to the same FBI review process that all the drivers are subjected to and get that done maybe on a ten day track as well.
REP. GUERRERA: Well again, let me just -- I know you're going to keep going on here. But let me just say because I want to try to keep this moving. I did hear your testimony but I think we're all on the same page here. If we get those three crucial areas taken care of even with the background checks that people have -- you know I don't want to be so concerned that it has to be FBI because I want to be fair with both sides. If there's one you know independent source that could do the job just as well as that we may have to look at that.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Right.
REP. GUERRERA: Or go the other way here. But if that's the case that if we -- if we end up doing what I think we're going to do here the competition will still be out there. Correct?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: I don't think so. I think that you've got a flooded market and these operators are entitled to be free of competition for which there is no need. It's illegal competition right now. And it should not be --
REP. GUERRERA: Well Mary, it's illegal but what I'm trying to say is that it's competition though. And I'm not trying to -- believe me, I love the taxicab industry and all that. But its competition that's coming in and the whole point was to make sure it's the same level playing field.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Well -- excuse me.
REP. GUERRERA: And if we do that then the consumer should have the option of deciding where he wants or she wants to go here.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Well I think that competition is a very good thing, Representative Guerrera. The problem is that this -- these rogue, gypsy taxicab operators were allowed into this State without having to be -- commit -- comply with the requirements for customer safety and that's a big deal. And I don't want you to forget --
REP. GUERRERA: It is a big deal.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: -- the PSA licensure part because if the drivers are going to be subjected to the criminal background check they should also be required to be vetted through the PSA.
REP. GUERRERA: But that's why we're here, Mary. That's why this committee's here having this hearing to make sure that we put things in place.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: And we appreciate that.
REP. GUERRERA: My point is if we put these issues in place you will have competition out there.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: We have competition already and the problem is that this competition's come in without --
REP. GUERRERA: Well there's a different technology. That's what I'm saying is more technology coming down the pike. That's what I'm saying that you may have -- the industry is changing every day.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Oh, yes.
REP. GUERRERA: And we may have to look at even maybe dereging maybe the taxicab industry so that way they have a better source out there. And I don't know that. I'm just saying I can't just put blinders on and say that this is good for this group and not good for the other one. I have to make sure that it's level for everyone.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: That's exactly what we're asking for, a level playing field.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: And -- and we appreciate the effort.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Thank you. Then we can agree on that then.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: We absolutely agree on that, a level playing field.
REP. GUERRERA: Representative Wilms.
REP. WILMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Madam, for your testimony. I would like to revisit the question I asked earlier. And I know that in your testimony you did make an attempt to talk about -- because it's clear -- you know I represent Norwalk, lower Fairfield County and in my constituency there's a lot of professional, well educated people where people work in New York City. I would say very informed consumers. And since getting on the transportation committee I've had a chance to talk with a lot of my friends and colleagues and people who I know and I've been astounded at how many people I know either drive for Uber part time or take Uber.
And you know again my constituency is a highly educated professional constituency and they seem to be able to make informed decisions on their own behalf. And so it seems like I guess my question is why are they taking Uber when the yellow cab taxi service has been available for decades? But -- and people know that already. But why are they taking Uber?
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Well I think that's an excellent question. I think they're taking Uber because they're under the misunderstanding that Uber is offering them a comparably safe ride in a vehicle that's adequately insured to protect them in the event that there's an accident. And I -- I have a lot of highly educated friends and colleagues that practice law. I've got a lot of business clients in the Fairfield County area and Greenwich and when I ask them are you aware of what the insurance coverage is and they say no. and I say are you aware that when Uber came into this State and these other companies come in there were waivers of liability that were signed not only by the drivers waiving liability back to the company and there's a waiver of liability in the smart app for the rider. They were unaware of that which meant that if there was an accident there was no coverage and no one was going to pay the medical bills. They were unaware of that.
Now as I watch the technology company evolve it looks like they're responding to the rapid fire of regulators who we hope will include you one day to requiring them to have adequate insurance coverage and have adequate responsibility and accountability. What we don't see is what a company like this ridesharing company, Uber for one -- and I don't mean to single them out, will do with the Uber drivers who are doing what we call personals in the industry. A personal is where the driver has a personal relationship with a rider, a businessman for example or a businesswoman who commonly goes in from Fairfield County into New York on a daily basis and would prefer to take a car rather than a train ride.
And instead of going through the smart app with Uber, they meet a driver for Uber and say look I go in every day do you want to cut a side deal here? And the driver says sure. so instead of the -- the ride being posted and tracked on an Uber platform or a smart app platform, again not to single Uber out, that ride is being done under the radar and guess what under the radar that commercial policy that Uber has that gets activated when the rider gets in the car never gets activated. The person who's riding in the vehicle is now riding in an uninsured car because the ride is a for hire ride and there's no insurance more likely than not under the personal policy that will cover a claim or an injury that occurs while the rider is riding in that vehicle. And that's where there's major risk exposure for the consuming public there.
And I don't believe the consuming public of these intelligent, educate people who are capable of making their own decisions are aware of that. I would also like to say this, this transportation service should not be enabled to create a discriminatory option. And -- and I -- I can't emphasize that enough because if that's what's going to happen then you're making available a service that's only available to people of means if you will and not available to elderly, the -- the people in the working class who don't have credit cards who use cash who aren't able to go to college and go to school but are just as smart as these educated professional people that you and I know who have the ability to go on and get higher education degrees.
So I fear that furthering these rideshare companies as they currently exist without adequate regulations will create a despaired system in this State which would be anti -- would be discrimination at its worst.
REP. WILMS: Well I -- and thank you for that. You know I -- like the Chairman said I do share concerns around insurance and inspection and -- and also background checks. But having said that, and I'm sure a way can be found to bring both parties together on those issues. But having said that from what I hear there's a real gap in the quality of service. And that people who I know are taking Uber is because for whatever reason they believe they're getting a better quality service. And so that's something that has to be part of this conversation and it just -- it needs to be forefront in our minds that the consumers of Connecticut are already making their own choices and we need to respect that.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: I agree. I do think that consumer choice should be respected. The problem is without adequate oversight over a company like Uber and these other companies we run the risk of drivers who are -- you know let's say Joe Six pack or the guy who likes to spend the afternoon in the bar and then decides he can pick up a quick $50 or $100 because he's suddenly going to activate his Uber platform and do a couple of rides for customers in Fairfield County into New York for dinner and back.
He's already got a few drinks on board and maybe there's insurance, maybe there isn't because maybe he's doing it as a personal and not under his commercial policy and we've got a major problem there. Or what about the Uber rider who calls for a car and the car that showed up in Greenwich was an old Volkswagen Beetle with smoky windows and hadn't been inspected for years. The taxicab companies --
REP. GUERRERA: Please let's keep the comments down. We want to hear testimony from everybody and we'll hear both pros and cons. Thank you.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: I'm sorry. All right. Just to -- to move on from that and I'm sorry if I offended anyone with that but there's nobody regulating that. The taxicab companies cannot have cars on the road if they're older than ten years. The taxicab companies and the drivers are required to comply with very stringent regulations for quality, cleanliness, markings, the paint jobs, the dents and let me talk about the inspection process. I have been present many times when the DOT sent inspectors randomly without prior notice to inspect fleet of cabs. Metro Taxi from Representative Kennedy's district has been subjected over and over again to fleet inspections on a random basis by the DOT and the DMV inspectors.
Most of the companies have certified DMV inspectors who certify their cars. When any car gets registered to go on the road it has to be certified by DMV as -- as safe. And so that's a missing link here in these other transportation services operations at the present time. And I think if everyone were subject to the same regulations in that way which already exists then you're going to be insuring that the riders are riding in safer vehicles as opposed to the unknown.
REP. WILMS: Okay. Well thank you for your comments and thank you, Mr. Chair.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. And I'm sure that whatever this transportation committee decides to do in terms of this legislation we will make sure we vet it so that it is a fair and balanced approach. Nothing can be perfect but we will do our best to make sure it's as close to perfect as possible. And some of these -- some of the testimony being made are issues that we can resolve. With that, Representative Bumgardner.
REP. BUMGARDNER: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good afternoon.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Good afternoon.
REP. BUMGARDNER: I have a couple questions. I'll be very brief but you keep you know referring to you know the many regs that the taxicab industry is subject to. My question is rather than sort of stating you know those regs are there any regulations on the book that really is impeding you guys currently from being able to offer you know the best kind of service you can because we keep saying level playing field but it seems to me that a lot of the problems are not necessarily the lack of regulations but the significant number of regulations that's imposed on your company.
So you know could you name maybe one or two or perhaps three concrete proposals that you know you would rather see off the books that would you know help the taxicab industry grown and expand and you know remain competitive with Uber.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: All right. Actually I haven't looked at what ones would we eliminate because most of the regulations that are on the books now and the statutes that are on the books have been comprehensively reviewed with the benefit of legislative -- the legislative review and programs review committee process a while back. And there were recent changes to the statutes that allow for the drivers -- the individual drivers to be cited by Department of Motor Vehicles and police if they're not compliant with the regulations for patient safety -- I'm sorry, for consumer safety, for antidiscrimination and for the vehicle safety rules.
So we -- we were able to update those requirements in recent years. As far as eliminating the regulations I don't think at this point that's the way to go. We favor a regulated industry because we believe that only through the regulations can the passengers be properly protected and we're comfortable with the system as it currently existed -- exists.
What we ask is that the legislative fix initially while you continue to study what else to do as this whole technology system evolves would be to simply add in language that includes these ridesharing companies into the existing statutes and regulations that are currently operative. The only other piece that's missing is the Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles need to recommit to enforcing the rules that currently exist. It was very common for DOT to be down at the train station in Greenwich, New Haven, Bridgeport and arresting these gypsy cab operators.
They stopped doing it around April of 2014 and since Uber and Lift which is now gone came into this State there's been no activity -- no enforcement activity against gypsy cab operators that I'm aware of. My companies have complained repeatedly to DOT about this and nothing has happened. And we're asking that the enforcement just merely be reactivated and that it include Uber and other smart app dispatch services and then we've got a level playing field.
After that if the committee or a taskforce looked at the current regulatory structure under statute and regs and wanted to improve it and perhaps discard some of the regulations that may constitute over unnecessary regulation the industry would be very happy to work with that kind -- that group and improve the level of regulation with always in mind with consumer safety as the number one priority.
REP. BUMGARDNER: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any other comments? Thank you very much.
MARY ALICE MOORE LEONHARDT: Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: Fahmi Youssef followed by Suzanne Bates. How are you?
FAHMI YOUSSEF: Good. You?
REP. GUERRERA: Good.
YOUSSEF FAHMI: My name is Youssef Fahmi. I work with Metro over ten years. I am a New Haven driver. Just wanted to say Uber hurt the business a lot in New Haven you know because I work hard every day seven days. I work under too many regulations. This time wanted to be in pick address the customer know the Metro Taxi that the color of it's orange and white. They know who's driving the car. And you know.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Thank you for those comments. And I appreciate you working hard. Hold on one second in case anyone has any questions. Any comments? Thank you, Sir.
YOUSSEF FAHMI: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Oh, I'm sorry. Representative Arce.
REP. ARCE: Excuse me. Sir, could you please. You said that you're working under too many regulations?
YOUSSEF FAHMI: Yeah. Because if something happened like I'm picking up customer, if the car broke down I call dispatch they got to send tow truck immediately or they got to send another car to pick up the customer to take him to the place where he's going.
REP. ARCE: I'm not trying to be sarcastic or anything but I believe that there was a question asked by one of the representatives to the attorney that represented you guys and she felt that there shouldn't be no changes and they were comfortable with the regulations.
YOUSSEF FAHMI: What do you mean?
REP. ARCE: I mean the attorney that was -- that represent you guys was sitting right there in front of us right now saying that she has no problem and didn't want to see no changes in regulations -- in the regulations that you guys are under. I mean -- but I just -- you know. Mr. Chairman, I'm sorry about that.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you for the question. Thank you. Thank you, Sir.
YOUSSEF FAHMI: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Suzanne Bates followed by Muhammad Minhas, Metro Taxi.
SUZANNE BATES: Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Suzanne Bates. I am the policy director for the Yankee Institute and I'm here today to testify on House Bill 6349. I'm not here to support or oppose any companies or industries. I'm just here to encourage the committee to impose as few regulations as possible to regulate this budding industry. I also want to point out that what you're doing by regulating ridesharing is setting a precedent and sending a message to all segments of the sharing economy. The sharing economy is growing.
You know it's also you know home sharing with Airbnb and companies like that. So what you're doing here is you're setting a precedent and sending a message. And we also here in Connecticut we need to appeal as much as we can to young people. And I believe that young people are -- are part of the sharing economy in a big way. And so I think that you know as we -- as we choose not to regulate we can send a message that Connecticut is open to young people. It's open to business. And it's open to new and budding industries.
I also want to point out there are some states that have done a really good job at regulating the sharing economy, the ridesharing businesses. And there are other states that haven't done as good a job. Massachusetts actually just passed some -- some good legislation I think on the ridesharing industry. They put in a few minimal regulations on things that you guys have been talking about today like insurance and safety checks, background checks. But they -- they went the minimal route and where other states have regulated these industries right out of business and so we're hoping that Connecticut will follow that lead. And -- and also take a minimalist approach to this new industry. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any questions for Suzanne? Senator Leone followed by Representative Steinberg.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Suzanne, for your testimony. It shows here that you -- your testimony was going to be neutral in terms of this proposal.
SUZANNE BATES: Yeah. We're -- well I mean the bill says very little so in terms of like you know the bill itself we're neutral. We're comfortable with some regulations philosophically but like we believe the State should take a minimal approach to regulating the industry at this point.
SENATOR LEONE: So you mentioned a couple of states have done a better job than others. Other than Massachusetts does the institute have a paper on -- on this issue or they haven't weighed in on it yet?
SUZANNE BATES: We do not. We haven't issued a paper on it. We've just been looking at the issue broadly and so I can tell you there's some -- like Colorado put in some very stringent regulations and that had a huge impact on the industry there so. But Massachusetts is an example of a state that's done a good job I think so far regulating this industry.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Representative Steinberg.
REP. STEINBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you for your testimony today. I'll continue along the same lines as Senator Leone. You make reference to Massachusetts as perhaps being a model and I think we'll all take a look at that. But could you a little further in describing sort of the continuum and what defines minimalist in your view.
SUZANNE BATES: Sure.
REP. STEINBERG: I think we have a general agreement that the three areas you describe are the three really most up for discussion at this point. I think it would help the committee if we understood where sort of that dividing line is if you can draw such a line.
SUZANNE BATES: Sure. I mean so what Massachusetts did is what you -- what you've been talking about today. They -- they looked at insurance. They looked at background checks and then they also looked at -- insurance, background checks, oh and they made sure that they had safety checks for the vehicles and that the registered with the state. I would say that would be a more minimalist approach where regulating ridesharing companies like the taxi companies are now would be excessive. So regulating how many cars could be on the road, regulating you know what -- how employees are treated by their employer.
Well in the ridesharing companies they're not employees. They're independent contractors. So some states have tried to you know interfere in this relationship between -- and so -- so I think that's -- that would be excessive in our mind, where the Massachusetts approach -- and what Massachusetts also did is they asked some of their municipalities to get together and talk about how this industry is growing and what regulations -- you know what's happened -- you know so they -- they did the minimal approach and then they put together a committee of people who were looking at how it's working.
And I think you know I have some sympathy for the taxi drivers because I think they are overregulated. And of course they're comfortable with the regulations now because they protect them. But I think in general it's an overregulated industry and I -- it would be nice if it was a level playing field for them so they could compete as well.
REP. STEINBERG: Thank you. I think we all agree we want to create a level playing field. I understand better now that when you described as minimalist you're talking about the breadth of regulations not necessarily the regulations themselves in the three areas of safety, background checks and insurance. So thank you. I think that's helpful. I'm not sure I totally agree with you and we probably will never agree about the degree of regulations, those sorts of things. But thank you for your testimony.
SUZANNE BATES: That's okay. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Any other comments for Suzanne? Thank you very much, Suzanne.
SUZANNE BATES: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Nice to see you. Muhammad Minhas. Good afternoon, Muhammad.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: Good afternoon. My main concern is about the drivers.
REP. GUERRERA: Just give me your name please and then you can start.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: Muhammad Minhas. I apologize.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: My concern is first of all my drivers who have to follow all the regulations established by DOT. They have to follow to get their medical, get their background checks, pay extra fee for their licenses which is more than the regular license. And go through a procedure of six to eight weeks just to get the public service license and it's all cost is included. You know drivers have to pay from their pocket, wait all this long time. And why don't Uber have to follow that regulation?
I don't even think it's a fair competition that I'm open to the competition as a company but the rules should be set equally. Here is a simple example, a picture taken last Saturday in front of Toad's Place. The car is from New York in the State of Connecticut taking a flag down which is a hail. I mean they have app yes. If you have -- you know using your app -- if the customer is using your app take the customers. Why are you doing flag downs because as per Uber policy if somebody takes a flag down the order is not through their app so it's not insured? That's a big risk.
How is Uber monitoring this through the phone system? You can get this proof not only in front of Toad's Place, Saturday, Friday night go to Quinnipiac University. They are not allowed at the campus. You book the taxi from Quinnipiac, they send a message to me at Hogan's -- Hogan Road to get picked up because they are not allowed by security at the campus. That's a clear violation like you are telling your customer that don't meet us here we are not allowed. Meet us somewhere else and we will pick you up. That is like totally insane.
I mean why we have to get into the queue at the train station and follow the rules set up over there while Uber can just walk in, a driver can say hey Uber, Uber and you get the passenger, walk them without the queue and get it done.
REP. GUERRERA: Hold on. Hold on now. Hold on. I mean it. I will have people escorted out of here. All right. We're going to conduct ourselves in the proper manner. If you want to testify sign up. Go ahead, Sir. Sorry about that.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: My -- again my concern is on behalf of all my taxi drivers you know that if we have to follow all the rules at train stations, we have to follow rules at all the campuses and downtown and everywhere why don't Uber have to follow this rule? This is a simple violation right there with the plate number and you can see out of state, working over here. If my taxi by any chance pick up from JFK coming to even Connecticut they can get ticket by TLC inspectors. We are not allowed. So we are following all the rules, coming back with the deadhead miles. Uber can go anywhere and do it? That's unacceptable.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you for your testimony. Again, obviously there was -- there's going to be some contradictions in regards to what you said here so. You know you made some very good remarks, Mr. Minhas, is it?
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: That's correct.
REP. GUERRERA: And -- but again that is why we are here today.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: I understand.
REP. GUERRERA: All right. And I want you to -- I want to be very clear about that, that we are not trying to cripple anyone. Anyone. But we also want to make sure that we have a -- you know don't want to stifle competition either. And I agree with you, there are ways I think that we can craft legislation that makes sure that those proper issues are addressed in regards to licensing, inspections and background checks so therefore it's fair for everyone and may the best person win. That has -- that has been the American dream. That is about competition. Am I correct?
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: I'm all open to it.
REP. GUERRERA: Right. Okay. With that I'll hand it over to Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Sir, for your testimony. So if an -- if an Uber grabs a fair without going online, what do you call it a free --
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: Flag down.
REP. O'DEA: Flag down. Sorry. They're not covered under the Uber policy as at least I understand what we've been told so far. How about a cab -- and I -- you know it was many years ago, don't hold it against me. But I -- I remember a time where I gave a cabbie $20. He didn't turn on the meter and just took me where I needed to go. Don't quote me on that. Are the cameras on? No. So if that -- in that scenario -- in that scenario am I covered under your insurance or --
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: Yes you are.
REP. O'DEA: But presumably that's not what the cab company wants the driver to do either. Correct?
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: Yes. That's correct. But if you have a personal you're still operating under the insurance. It's just covering you 24-7 as long as you're operating that car.
REP. O'DEA: Even if it's -- even it's personal.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: That's correct.
REP. O'DEA: And flag down like that.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: That's correct.
REP. O'DEA: Okay. Thank you very much, Sir, for your testimony. Appreciate it.
REP. GUERRERA: Any other comments? Thank you very much for staying.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Go back to work now.
MUHAMMAD MINHAS: I'll try.
REP. GUERRERA: John Gagne. John Gagne. I'm sorry.
A VOICE: He stepped out.
REP. GUERRERA: He stepped out. How about Michael Palomino. Mike Palomino. He's gone. John Gagne show back -- did he pop -- pop in here? No. Bill Scalzi. Mike. How are you, Mike?
MICHAEL PALOMINO: How are you doing, Sir?
REP. GUERRERA: Is this Michael or is this John?
MICHAEL PALOMINO: No, Michael.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Just state your name please.
MICHAEL PALOMINO: My name is Michael Palomino. I'm a dispatch for Greenwich Taxi. And since I've been working for Greenwich Taxi I've seen that the business has kind of slowed down because Uber being all around the area and even my hours got cut off. And a lot of drivers they be turning the place in as well. And it's hard for me you know to maintain my bills and my family. So it's very -- it's very affected me a lot.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Michael. Any comments for Michael? Thank you, Michael for being here today.
MICHAEL PALOMINO: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Did John show up? John Gagne.
A VOICE: He's on his way in.
REP. GUERRERA: He's on -- all right. Why don't we go to Bill Scalzi -- Scalzi then? Sorry, Bill.
WILLIAM SCALZI: Thank you. My name is Bill Scalzi. I'm with Metro Taxi. I'm also vice president of the International Taxi, Livery and Paratransit Association. And obviously we've been studying this -- this topic very closely. I have some notes. I'm going to jump around a bit because of all the different things that I've heard being said today. So I think what I'll start with is just your comments, Representative O'Dea, about not -- about this taxi business and you know a lot about Uber now and somebody else said you know Mr. Morin I guess said they learned a lot about Uber well that's because there's been a lot of exposure.
I would hasten -- actually I would hazard a guess that most of you know more about Uber at this point than you probably do about the taxi industry because we've been regulated for many, many years. We've been self-sustaining in that regard. But what I'd like to make clear is that our industry is -- is basically the same as what you're seeing with Uber. There is no difference. Uber is acting like a taxicab. We're acting like a taxicab. The difference is how you secure that service. They use an app. We use an app. We also have a 24 hour call center. We have online booking. We have intelligent voice recognition systems.
So we have many, many different ways to -- to solicit our service, not just an app. But whether you're soliciting with an app the -- the -- what Uber is doing in the way that they operate and any TNC for that matter is they're operating as a for hire vehicle on a demand response basis. They're picking somebody up from an unknown destination or from a randomly chosen destination and dropping them off wherever they go. It's not a rideshare.
And I challenge anybody in this room or in this state to look at the way their vehicles operate and tell me or tell anybody for that matter that they're not operating as a taxicab. So if that's the case which I firmly believe that it is then let's talk about the regulations. I would suggest that if you want to change regulations that when you do that you're changing it for the entire climate; the taxi climate, the livery climate and we'll just call it the Uber climate for lack of a better term.
So if you're going to lessen the restrictions on driver vetting process, if you're not going to do vehicle maintenance, if you're going to -- if you're going to allow some kind of a -- an insurance situation where you don't have 24 hour coverage then that would have to be the same for the taxi industry. Because these are exactly the same modes of transportation as evidenced by what we've heard already today. The regulations -- and Commissioner Redeker about -- he mentioned about the 1920s, I believe the taxi reservations -- regulations were redone in the 90s and they should be redone again because there's a lot of things that we can do to enhance the service. And by that I mean some of you had questions about taxi service.
I can't get a taxicab. I believe and my industry in Connecticut believes it's because for the most part our industry has been ignored. And whatever the reasons are, I don't know but the fact of the matter is we can raise the bar on taxi service without sacrificing public safety. We don't have to give up what we already have but certainly there's many, many means and I can look to New York as an example of that with the TLC. We can -- we can report number of trips to the DOT, pick up times. We can adjust it.
We can have minimal vehicle standards, driver standards. I've given all this to the DOT so they have it. We can implement these. All right. So there are -- and -- and in doing that Uber can -- Uber can go by the same rules and regulations that we decide.
REP. GUERRERA: Sorry, Bill. You're going to have to -- I'm going to have to -- the three minute bill went off there. You can press your button again. Press your button. There you go.
WILLIAM SCALZI: I was talking as fast as I could.
REP. GUERRERA: No. I appreciate -- but you, you submitted testimony, Bill?
WILLIAM SCALZI: I did.
REP. GUERRERA: Good. Any comments? Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I totally agree with you that -- that I think it needs to be a level playing field and I will say that in my town there was a problem with service from the taxicab service. And I think what Uber has done was make the business more into the 21st century now that -- that this Greenwich app that I've been playing with here and taking a look at I think all taxicab services should have it. So I do appreciate your comments. I think they're right spot on and I thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative O'Dea. Representative Scanlon.
REP. SCANLON: Mr. Scalzi, thank you. And Mr. Chairman, thank you. And Mr. Scalzi, thank you for coming in today to testify. Again I want to go back to the background checks issue. As I mentioned last time when Uber was here I actually signed up to become an Uber driver and went through that process as many of these guys probably did to become Uber drivers. But I also went a step further and tried to become a driver with your company because Metro Taxi is the closest applicable cab company for me.
And I pulled up your application on the website. It took me 30 minutes to become an Uber driver and four days to get certified with the background check and then I'm looking here at your application where I have to put my education, my references, my previous employment, my military service. It seems much more comprehensive than the Uber application. And I'm wondering if you could speak to why you chose to make it so much more comprehensive.
WILLIAM SCALZI: We're giving you the keys to a car that you are going to pull up at any transportation hub, restaurant, bar, you name it and somebody is going to willingly open up the back door and hop in that vehicle. And we take that very serious so we want to know as much background as we can about you before we subject the public to that kind of a risk. And it is a risk. I mean -- and the -- and the absence of that -- I guess what I should first say is these regulations didn't just happen.
They came out of decades of legislation and public hearings and unfortunately some very, very bad experiences out there that led to these regulations. And I think that it's -- it's very cavalier and almost arrogant to assume that there's no longer a need for them. And I've heard everybody say that we have to have the vetting process and things like that but -- but to hear Uber say that you they feel that they're -- they're driver vetting process is better than the FBI's fingerprinting process is -- is very, very troubling to me because it couldn't possibly be. So that's why we look into it a lot further.
REP. SCANLON: And as a business owner and as a member of the general public do you feel better about the process that you put your potential applicants through which is as far as I can tell pretty comprehensive compared to me for example as Sean Scanlon, the citizen not the legislator being able to sign up to become a driver in 30 minutes having watched a 16 minute training video and then after four days of a background check that did not fingerprint me I could become a driver similar to anybody else in the world?
WILLIAM SCALZI: Right. I mean we -- we -- we feel very comforted by the fact that we've gone as far as we possibly can. It's not just a fingerprint, it's the background information that we want. We have a four day in house training program and then we send the driver out with another professional trainer, a driver that we have to -- to make sure -- I mean we really -- and a good part of the -- our process is to make the driver aware of the Department of Transportation regulations because that's huge.
You know I would suggest that -- that part of the testimony I heard today suggested that the difference between Uber and taxicabs is basically taxicabs don't have the freedom to move, they're restricted to one area and Uber cars can go wherever they want. Yes. That's the problem because they're not following any regulatory scheme. You know those are the things that we live and die with. And if you want to change some of those things and I think that's a larger discussion and believe me this industry will be at the table all day long to discuss that. But that's -- but that's really not what we're discussing right now.
REP. SCANLON: Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any other comments? Representative Lavielle.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you. Thank you for your testimony, Mr. Scalzi. I continue to be preoccupied by the question of access, not in terms of you know you don't have a credit card so you can't pay for it or something but actual geographic access. And I think that something tells me, I could be wrong and -- and correct me if I am, that some of that has to do with what is actually economically workable for a taxi company. And that's normal. There's nothing -- there's no value judgment inherent in that.
But with so many -- and a city environment is one thing and there you can talk about people indifferently using taxi or Uber or whatever other ride service. But in our smaller towns where the traffic is less regular the -- the need that someone may have to use a third party for transportation may be very frequent but they wouldn't necessarily be taking a taxi all the time and might not be able to find one at all hours. In those contexts has it been up until now lucrative for taxi companies in those particular small town environments? I'm just curious.
WILLIAM SCALZI: Well I think I'd start off by saying water seeks its own level. All right. And in those cases if a driver does not see an awful lot of work in a particular area they're going to migrate to another area. What prevents that from happening is a 24 hour dispatch service. So somebody -- a dispatcher -- and I understand -- well let me just tell you quickly about our technology. You sit there, you have four screens in front of you, literally see every vehicle you own, what road it's on, how fast it's going, does it have a passenger in the back. You have another screen of reservations.
And for those harder to service areas your -- your dispatcher is constantly working on -- well 80 percent of our work goes out without a dispatcher even having to see it. Twenty percent is the harder thing since you have to make it happen. That's just the life of a taxicab company. So you do make them happen. So that's what we do as opposed to the app market where there's nobody watching to see that happen. And quite frankly if nobody wants to service a particular area they're just not going to get serviced and it's as simple as that. But more to your question, I believe that the pockets in Connecticut -- and I'm not familiar with them. I've heard other people asking about that.
The pockets in Connecticut where there isn't good taxi service is because I believe that the major taxi companies have to have a lot of skin in the game. And even the smaller companies. They -- they -- there has to be a regulatory commitment so that such that if I have the City of New Haven all right, and there's nobody in -- along the shorelines servicing those towns and if I want to keep that area of New Haven I've got to -- I've got to provide strong service to those other shoreline towns or I'm going to lose my authority in New Haven.
And I have proposed this to the DOT many, many, many times because I think that's the way to work. You can take care of Putnam, Litchfield, whatever -- whatever major companies are closest to those cities would have the -- would the you know responsibility of doing that. Is it a loss? Yes. Then you make it up on your -- I mean every business has you know good spots and bad spots. But -- but there are so many ways to make this happening but it's just -- it's -- well it hasn't been acted upon. Let's just say that.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you. I -- I just asked the question because if -- again it speaks to the need for something whether -- however you do it, however you regulate it, however you don't regulate it. The -- I think that a lot of this has -- has arisen because there are places in Connecticut where you simply can't on a very, very frequent basis find a third party service. And -- and that may -- I don't -- I don't' think that that's an effect or an outcome of ill will or not wanting to serve a particular area but simply of both regulatory and economic drivers. No pun intended.
WILLIAM SCALZI: Well I think -- well let me say this, Commissioner Redeker mentioned wheelchair accessible transportation in the taxi industry and hopefully that it will expand. We had a nine day hearing, an exhaustive process to expand our wheelchair base. We have the largest percentage of wheelchair vehicles in our fleet nationwide I believe between us and Yellow Cab in Hartford. And we wanted to expand upon that in areas that didn't have that service. And after nine days of hearing we were turned down flat. So we applied -- applied for 70 vehicles to take care of all of those surrounding territories and wound up with zero.
Now the DOT has their reasoning behind that but my -- my point to all this is that if we're confined to those types of situations then please don't now condemn us for that type of service. Open it up to a good discussion and let's -- let's solve those things. This one will blow your hair back. For years I tried to go to the DOT and suggest we give a senior citizens discount. And the reason I was given for not allowing that is because monopolies like me all right would price the smaller companies out of business. Look at what we're dealing with right now. Right. And that was their reasoning behind it.
So I think that being able to pay for trips in advance is good. I think there's different -- there's technologies that just make sense out there but we've never been able to do that. And if anything this has done is it's given -- it's given an ear to hopefully the Department of Transportation and this committee to foster the things that this -- that this -- that our industry is capable of. But when the dust settles my -- the Metro Taxi that's going up to pick that person up and the Uber car that's going up to pick that person up are identical and should be held to exactly the same standards.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much for your -- for your answers. I think again my -- my preoccupation is making sure that in addition to all the others we've cited the safety and reliability and so on is also making sure that there's actually cars available in all of these places where our population is changing and -- and really I think rather desperately needs the service.
WILLIAM SCALZI: I agree and my industry agrees.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Representative Verrengia.
REP. VERRENGIA: Through you, Mr. Chair. And I missed the beginning part of that question so I'm not sure if this question is part of that. I don't know much about the taxicab business. And you can correct me if I'm wrong but I'm under the assumption that as owners there's certain areas that cab companies work under -- under a medallion system or some sort or whatever it is in general.
Today we've talked a lot about -- and it looks like we're probably going to go in the direction of if there is going to be regulation. We've talked about safety. We've talked insurance. We've talked about inspections. And let's just say at the end of the day that comes to fruition. Are we under like a false assumption that if -- if we were to agree on those issues that there would be an underlying issue with respect to those protected territories by the various cab owners?
WILLIAM SCALZI: I'm not sure I quite understand. I believe that there are three conditions that kept -- that keep being repeated here and there's the driver vetting, there's the vehicle maintenance and then there's the insurance issue. There's also two very large issues out there. One I just alluded to was the pricing. All right. The DOT controls all the pricing for the taxi industry and Uber is outside of the regulations right now so they're adhering to none -- none of that. That's a big issue. And then the other issue is open entry. So it's a -- it's a form of deregulation.
If there is no cap on the number of vehicles that Uber is allowed to use at any given time then you have in fact deregulated the industry. Now Attorney Moore Leonhardt mentioned before about the 2008 PRI study. Let me just say this, there are -- there are two reports now that this committee has authored to be -- to be done. One was the 2008 PRI report which is an exhaustive study on the taxi and livery industries in Connecticut. And the other one was the just -- was just the CCSU report that quite frankly we've not really seen yet. But I do know in the CCSU report it talks about deregulation and how that's the wrong way to go. So you know -- now have two reports just from this committee alone that has said don't deregulate.
And yet the unfettered allowance of as many Uber cars as you want out there is exactly that. It's -- as a matter of fact open entry is the strongest -- there's different levels of deregulation. Open entry is the strongest of those levels. It's -- it's the most liberal as far as deregulation goes. So there are studies from the twenties, the thirties, the seventies, the eighties and nineties, independent studies Pricewaterhouse, a couple of doctors did studies on the effects of deregulation. It's been tried. It's failed everywhere it's been. We don't have to guess. It doesn't work.
So I would suggest to you in these three issues that you're now discussing if you don't somehow in the taxi part of it discuss the deregulation issues then it's going to be an absolute disaster as it has been everywhere it's tried -- it's been tried. It's -- I'm not -- I'm not saying -- I'm not a big regulation guy for all industries. Right. That's not the way I -- I've grown up. It's not my philosophy. But in the taxi world there are very, very good reasons why you regulate the number of vehicles, pricing and it all centers around as Mr. Guerrera said, customer service. It doesn't center around Metro Taxi versus Uber. It's all about customer service and deregulation has destroyed customer service basically everywhere it's been attempted.
REP. VERRENGIA: And just finally through you, Mr. Chair. And just the thought out there is it's been referenced that the existing model is over 100 years old and -- or maybe it was looked -- looked at in the nineties I believe you had said. You know things change as you well know. Sectors change, businesses change primarily because of technology. And I -- I think one of the things that we're seeing here is this technology is going to ultimately change this -- this model whether it's through deregulation or -- or whatever. But there's change in the air and I don't think anyone doubts that. So in going forward you know I -- I certainly appreciate your input but I certainly see this -- this model changing and hopefully --
WILLIAM SCALZI: The model yes. The way we facilitate our businesses absolutely. But -- but the taxi industry has not been standing you know blocking that from happening. As a matter of fact it's -- it's embraced this you know all throughout the years. Apps have been in the taxi service for eight to ten years now. It's not new. What's new is -- is a method of using the app in a way that you ignore all the regulations. That's the only thing that's new here.
And you know I've said that twice now I believe and I don't mean to be repetitive but I don't think I could emphasize any -- anything more strongly than that. And -- and what's left at the end of the day are the regulations that are in place for public safety. Technology shouldn't have anything to do with upsetting those regulations. They've been tried and true and tested. So why mess with it? Yes, the manner in which we charge people, the manner in which we use -- use a smartphone instead of a taxi meter. Absolutely.
The manner in which we dispatch across fleets so that if somebody -- if somebody wants a car from me and it's going -- I'm going to be ten minutes but I see one of my competitors cars that they're right there in front of them why can't I dispatch it to that car? I mean those are the things that we're prevented from doing and they're doing that in Chicago right now. They've got one app and they're dispatching across four -- four fleets of vehicles. It's working fine. The IRU in Europe is developing its own app for just that same reason. So the technology is there. It doesn't have to impede on public safety.
REP. VERRENGIA: Thank you, Sir. And thank you, Mr. Chair.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any other comments? Thank you, Bill.
WILLIAM SCALZI: Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: Thanks for waiting. Fernando Arenas. Greenwich Taxi. Followed by Joe Miller.
FERNANDO ARENAS: Hello. I'm Fernando Arenas. I -- I work in the industry for 29 years. And I don't like Uber because now many times in the -- I'm like driving, when I go pick up another passenger now I don't understand why the people call the company and they call Uber too. Who -- who shows up first takes the passenger. That's not fair because Greenwich Taxis they in Greenwich for forever you know. And now the company take the business many times. That's it. Can't make an accident or something like that you know. Now -- now somebody call them for any bar or when the office needed -- needed to pick up as soon as possible you know. That's not fair. That's why I don't like the Uber people.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Sir. Any -- any comments for Fernando? Thank you, Fernando. Joe Miller.
JOSEPH MILLER: Good afternoon, Chairman Guerrera.
REP. GUERRERA: Hey, Joe. How are you?
JOSEPH MILLER: My name is Joe Miller. I'm the general manager of the Curtin Transportation Group. We're a organization of seven taxi companies and livery companies. We provide transportation in Connecticut. I'm here to support House Bill 6349. I want to concentrate on the background checks. The term background checks we seem to be concentrating on the criminal background checks. Uber has stated that they do a background check based on social security numbers.
As a Connecticut state trooper for 22 years I've prepared a number of arrest warrants, search warrants, arrest packets and submitted them to the Connecticut judicial system. All of the prosecutors and judges accepted those as being thorough records. They weren't based on a social security number. It wasn't uncommon that when you checked somebody for a criminal background checks they had numerous aliases and background -- I mean social security number. You can't change -- you can change your social security numbers. You can't change your fingerprints. The second part of that that nobody seems to be touching on is the physical standards. You have to submit yourself to a DOT physical, the same physical that is required of truck drivers and school bus drivers to ensure public safety. They want to make sure that you can physically perform the duties of a driver safely to ensure public safety. I don't know if you want me to continue. I've got a lot more. Okay.
The DOT physical they want to make sure that you don't have any impairment, loss of use of your foot, leg, hand, arm that would interfere, that you don't suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory dysfunction, you have a history of high blood pressure that would interfere with your ability to drive a safely, that you don't have a history of amphetamine, narcotic or habit forming drug use and no diagnosis of alcoholism. They just revised the standards -- the federal standards that Connecticut has adopted.
If you have a neck of 17 and a half inches and you want to be a taxi driver you have to submit yourself to a sleep apnea study. Just to -- just to apply to be a taxi driver in the State of Connecticut. So we believe that all these standards, regulations are needed to ensure that one our taxicabs and livery vehicles are being driven safely and that we can assure the safety of the citizens of Connecticut.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Joe. Always a pleasure to see you.
JOSEPH MILLER: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: You've been a gentleman. I appreciate your comments. Any questions for Joe? Senator Simanski.
REP. SIMANSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Hi Joe.
JOSEPH MILLER: Hi.
REP. SIMANSKI: Joe, I think a previous speaker mentioned the physical task but I think he also mentioned the mental aspect, test as well. Can you maybe elaborate on that a little bit?
JOSEPH MILLER: Yeah there's a -- the doctors have to register themselves on a national registry that they actually want to perform the DOT physical. There's a four page document, questions and then the actual exam itself and they go into questionnaires on your mental history, medications, things like that so that they can -- if that doctor -- they may be seeing you for the first time. An example, diabetes, that DOT -- that doctor does the DOT physical may not be your primary physician.
So before they issue that medical card for you to drive they're going to want to speak with your attending physician, your primary physician about your history of insulin use, any other medical issues, mental health issues that if you relayed to that doctor yes I've been diagnosed as this or I was treated for this that they can reach out to that primary care physician to ensure that they can sign off on that DOT physical.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any other comments? Thank you, Joe.
JOSEPH MILLER: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Nice to see you. Brett Aresco. Brett. Brett. Sairah Sandhu.
SAIRAH SANDU: Good morning everyone. My name is Sairah Sandu. I co-own Executive 2000 Transportation certificate 1097 with Nisar Sandu who is presently out of the country. We employ 13 people at 11 Alcap Ridge in Crowell. We hold 21 taxi permits, 19 government livery and five general livery permits. We at Executive 2000 Transportation support House Bill number 6349 based on several concerns, the major concern being that of public safety. Laws are not made without good reason. Many laws, rules, regulations have been put forth with regard to transporting passengers in the State of Connecticut for the safety of the public.
It seems unfathomable that we would suddenly allow ridesharing companies to transport in our State without having to follow the same rules such as thorough background checks and fingerprinting, licensing endorsements and moving violations on their driving history. Our company insists on proper license endorsements which means that the DOT has done thorough finger -- sorry, the DMV has done a thorough fingerprint background and medical check. We as a company check for sexual offenders.
Our insurance company is very strict on insuring our drivers and must see a driving history before allowing them to drive. When a driver becomes 65 our insurance company demands an updated physical. We do yearly background checks on every driver. We follow all the safety checks and the rules and regulations for our vehicles. We conduct random drug and alcohol testing. We give all of our driver's path training which is a safety training course whether they are driving taxi or livery. We have a very strict public complaint policy ensuring our customers a safe and enjoyable ride.
I am appalled and disappointed that the government of this great State of Connecticut would even think of allowing a lawless, dangerous, ungoverned transportation system to practice here. I feel a cease and desist should be ordered immediately. I understand many are excited about the idea of an app system. Our company will have an app system almost identical to that of Uber but that follows the rules of the DOT and the laws of our government up and running within the next two weeks.
If this is mostly about an app then perhaps we could call for all taxi companies to have an app. But please, I beseech all of you don't endanger our public and undermine all the hard work we've done -- all the hard work we've put in to ensure the safety of our public here in our State.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Sairah, for those comments. Nice to see you. Any comments for Sairah? Thank you for waiting.
SAIRAH SANDU: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Senator Linares followed by Hamid Koummal.
SENATOR LINARES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's great to be here. Spending a lot of time at the transportation committee this year. It's a very exciting committee. And I really appreciate the opportunity to speak today. During my campaign I -- I ran on -- and like most of us the idea of creating jobs in this State. And encouraging innovative businesses to come to Connecticut, to move to Connecticut, to employ the next generation workforce. And I think what we're seeing here with Uber is a company that is exploding with growth and we shouldn't be looking to regulate that. We should be looking to accentuate that. And we should be encouraging that growth in Connecticut.
And that's why I'm here today. That's what I'm here to talk about. It's my understanding that Uber is creating 50,000 jobs a month across the globe. That is an incredible rate. We haven't seen anything like that since Facebook. And just like the internet we didn't get in the way of its growth. We allowed it to develop on its own and we allowed entrepreneurs to do what they do best to innovate and to grow jobs. So I'm here today to support Uber.
In fact I would actually like to see more Uber drivers in my district. I think it's an excellent way for young people to get home safely at the end of the night. We actually have a bar in my district that is frequented by many young people and it's a great place and there's nothing wrong with that but one of the issues that -- that I see is that when I drive past this bar people come from all over the Connecticut shoreline to meet with their friends.
But when I drive past this place I see a parking lot full of cars. And at the end of the night people are driving home. And really what they should be doing is taking Ubers back home safely. And I think every parent in the State of Connecticut would agree with me on that. So I think it's a great way for young people to get home safe. I think it's a great way to avoid DUIs and I think it's something that we should be looking into accentuating in Connecticut, not regulating. Also it's my understanding that taxicab crime has gone down since Uber has been developed in our neighboring states and that's a good thing as well. I know that access to rides for the disabled and for seniors will only increase if we increase the amount of Uber drivers in this State.
And ultimately I don't think that this is a fight, or should be a fight between taxi drivers and Uber drivers. I think that what we're seeing here is a new vehicle, a new model that is very effective very efficient, very innovative and that we're watching the marketplace do what it does best and tell us who the winner is. And we're seeing Airbnb become very successful because they're offering a product that is in some ways superior. We're seeing Uber become very successful because they're offering a superior product. We're seeing Tesla become very successful.
REP. GUERRERA: Easy there, Senator. Easy.
SENATOR LINARES: And do these are the kinds of companies that we should be looking to support as you know. And I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you.
SENATOR LINARES: And I would ask that -- thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. I don't mean to cut you off but I did hear the bill there.
SENATOR LINARES: No problem.
REP. GUERRERA: I want to be fair with everyone.
SENATOR LINARES: You bet.
REP. GUERRERA: You know, Senator, I think everyone on this committee will say that we want to enhance competition. We want business to grow but I will -- I do have to -- one part of your statement I have to say that we have to make sure though that we have a level playing field also. If we have competition coming in that we have to make sure there's -- you know, the -- whoever it may be, any consumer that goes into that vehicle has background checks, liability insurance and inspections.
If that's -- if we are able to do that I feel comfortable, I can sleep at night knowing that we've done our job in regards to putting the public less at risk. How we go about doing that obviously -- obviously we'll have to -- it might be a work in progress. It might be something that we may implement this year, look at as a -- you know a year down the road to see how it's working under the DOT. But again I do understand what you're saying but I also want to make sure that you know the safety mechanisms are in place and I'm sure you do too.
SENATOR LINARES: Absolutely. Completely agree. And you know ultimately you know we have to do what's -- what's appropriate to keep the safety of our constituency in mind and I know that this committee is thoughtful and will certainly do that but I ask you also to you know consider the amount of growth that we're seeing here so that we can come up with a balanced solution.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator Linares. Are -- Senator Boucher.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Senator Linares -- Linares. You're right. It's almost like you've become a member of the transportation committee.
SENATOR LINARES: I asked to be on the committee but didn't make it.
REP. GUERRERA: You didn't ask me.
SENATOR LINARS: Next time I will.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Well you know it is important to have your voice because not only are you one of the younger state senators but also an entrepreneur, someone that's done very well with new innovative ideas. And what this whole issue has brought forward as well as the others that we talked about is what happens when there's a new device, product or service in this case. We're talking about a service versus an actual product or a car that disrupts the status quo and really changes the whole landscape for everybody.
That -- that it's one thing when you have an automobile you have warranties and product liability rules that govern that, lemon laws and so forth but when you also start with a new service it also raises some of the issues that were discussed today from the standpoint of what -- how far do you go to protect the consumer without really harming you know the new way of doing things. And we can't -- you can't stop you know people.
It will happen because it will happen out of the states as you've heard if you were here earlier there are some states and some cities, large cities that are nearly 80 percent Uber type models that are functioning there that have really changed the landscape of the whole taxi business. But there's no question that there those that have spent years and great cost in the current system that we have. So the question is how do you balance those interests without really stopping the new direction from going forward?
SENATOR LINARES: Thank you, Senator. I understand exactly what you're speaking about. And I -- you know I think ultimately the market will really dictate where we need to head as -- as a government and as regulators. And I think that you know I agree we have to come up with thoughtful solutions but throughout this process we can learn a lot from these companies as well. And one of the things we can learn is their -- their criminal background check program is fast.
There might be ways that you know we can -- we can improve upon our own background check program by learning from how they do it fast or how they do it more affordably. Certainly we need to learn how to cut costs in the State level so there's a lot we can learn from these open discussions and as someone that is just very passionate about entrepreneurship I just wanted to come here and share my -- share my thoughts with you as a committee.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And it appears there are already learning taking place because some of the more frustrating aspects of trying to get a taxi is probably going through the different layers of reaching someone and then scheduling and so forth. But the new Uber app seems like it's starting to be adopted also by the taxicab industry too. So there may be some learning that occurs on both sides. So thank you very much for coming forward and testifying today.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator Boucher. Representative Wilms.
REP. WILMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Senator, for your comments. I listened with great interest to your -- to your views and your perspective. And I want to echo the Chairman's comments. Obviously I'm personally also concerned about making sure that in the -- and as I know you are in terms of background checks, insurance, things we've discussed that those are adequately dealt with. But I was particularly struck by one of your comments which was talking about the power of offering consumers choices. I mean on the one had government can help consumers by protecting them from being exploited or taken advantage of but on the other hand government can also help consumers by giving them more choices and options and empowering them.
And I was really struck by your comments in that -- in that area. And I guess I want to ask you the same question I've asked some others this morning is you know it seems to me that Uber's more than just an app. I mean you know I can have all sorts of apps on my phone but it doesn't mean that I'm actually use the service or repeatedly use the service. And I was wondering from what you've heard or what you've seen is there some sort of qualitative difference in the service that maybe people are getting from an Uber ride versus maybe a traditional Yellow Cab ride?
SENATOR LINARES: Well I've -- I've used -- I use Uber frequently most of the times when I do business in New York City I tend to use Uber quite often. And what I've -- what I've recognized about this business and I -- it's not an application. You're right. It's an incredible service. What I've recognized is how seamless it is. Whereas it's -- it's very convenient. You're -- you're able to cut out a lot of the issues that you may have had in the traditional experience of -- of getting a ride.
And so you know I think those are the kind -- those are the kind of companies that we find go on to be very successful are the companies that find ways to improve the service whether it be making it more affordable, whether it be making it more convenient. Those are the -- those are the kinds of improvements. We're seeing both of those improvements from Uber. And so I think that's why it's successful and the market is telling us that. And the -- certainly the younger generation most of us have Uber apps on our phone.
REP. WILMS: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: It's funny how representatives they keep saying the younger generation. You know. I'm waiting, Senator, what are you going to say with that one? We are the younger generation still out there.
SENATOR LINARES: I wasn't -- I was including you in that, Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. I guess you really want that Tesla bill. Representative Carney.
REP. CARNEY: Thank you very much. Senator Linares. And Senator Linares is actually my state senator. So I always love it when he comes in here. But you had mentioned with young people going out to -- to bars and I agree there's -- you frequently see a lot of cars parked there. Have you ever tried to -- or know of anybody that's ever tried to get a taxi ride or get an Uber ride along the Connecticut shoreline?
SENATOR LINARES: It's very difficult to get a taxi where we're from as you know, Representative. It's -- it's incredibly challenging. And I'm not even sure, I think there might be one business that has one vehicle. So you know I've personally reached out to Uber to -- to try and ask them to find ways to open up shop in eastern Connecticut because I think it would be -- improve the safety and quality of life for everyone. And so you know ultimately I think Uber is the kind of company that can provide that -- that -- that solution to the problem we have.
Also I forgot -- I failed to mention this but I want to take this moment. It's also a great way for young people to start their own business, to be self-employed, to be entrepreneurs, to learn what it's like to run their own company. And it's also a really good way for -- for immigrants to start their own business. And I think that's something we should be encouraging. So you know hopefully throughout this process we will be able to encourage Uber to open up in our neck of the woods.
REP. GUERRERA: I've got to say no clapping. All right. Representative.
REP. CARNEY: Thank you very much for that, Senator.
SENATOR LINARES: Thank you, Representative.
REP. GUERRERA: I want to be fair across the aisle here so Ubers or taxi or -- please you know refrain from the clapping if you would please. Any other comments? You know, Senator, I -- it's been interesting today listening to both sides of the issue here. And I used Uber once. And that was in Boston because I guess I'm not part of that younger generation but my daughter used it and she loved it. All right. But you know we have to be conscious of the safety aspect and all that.
And I try to really -- honestly when I look at some of these issues I try to put myself in everyone's position out there. And I say to myself I am a business owner, an entrepreneur out there. You know for many of my members I'm sure understand I have a construction business. But I can't tell someone -- you know I would want the same regulations or laws in place if someone came into Connecticut and said that they're going to start digging up a road but didn't have to have the same licensees or whatever it might be.
With that said, if that company comes in and has a better way of doing it and I don't then who am I to say that they can't do that. So I have to be conscious of all that. If there's a better mechanism that works but you know there's the issues are still the same out there then either I need to adjust or reevaluate the business plan out there.
SENATOR LINARES: I completely agree, Mr. Chairman. Competition breeds improvement and it also drives down the price of goods. So I think we're seeing that improvement in this app. It's a new model. It's innovative. And I think ultimately the market will change because of -- because of this new grand opportunity that we have in Uber. And as a business owner myself I understand where you're coming from.
REP. GUERRERA: Any other comments for Senator Linares? Thank you, Senator.
SENATOR LINARES: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: We have to get going here because the older generation can't stay up past five up here, Senator. John Gagne, did he come back in? No. He already went. Hamid Koummal. From Greenwich Taxi. Hamid. No. Karen Turcio -- Turcio. From Connecticut Limo. Good afternoon, Karen.
KAREN TURCIO: Good afternoon. My name is Karen Turcio and I manage the dispatch, safety and I'm just learning DOT for Connecticut Limo. Everybody went over everything I was going to ask you. What my concern is being a passenger in a vehicle knowing that we have to make sure we do a daily vehicle inspection for all the vehicles for owner opps and our limos, vans and coach buses every day. If there's a default we have to go to a certified mechanic, have them sign off on it.
They have to put their yellow ticket in the vehicle so if DOT pulls you over you have to prove this and we have to keep a copy in our office. Now like the Greenwich I don't know, whatever gentleman was up here earlier got towed. And things happen. Your brakes go. Things are going to happen in between your two twice a year inspections.
Do they have these things in their files? Are they going to a certified mechanic because my life is going in their hands? I'm grateful for everybody, for jobs, going forward with you know getting jobs in the -- in the business. I'm not here to put down either side. I'm just here for the safety of me as a passenger, making sure I'm getting in a vehicle that's safe. Because like you said you have two inspections but in between tires, things go wrong. That's all I have to say.
REP. GUERRERA: Well put, Karen.
KAREN TURCIO: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Hold on. Let me see if -- any questions for Karen? Senator Leone.
KAREN TURCIO: That's all. Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Don't go away. Quick question for you.
REP. GUERRERA: Not that fast, Karen.
SENATOR LEONE: When you said you -- all vehicles from A to Z have to do the inspection, did you say daily inspections? Hit your button.
KAREN TURCIO: Yes. They have to be done daily and they have to be kept in their vehicles for 90 days. In their vehicles -- the updated inspection. And another thing that worries me is if they don't have a name on their vehicle and a phone number I mean does DOT know to pull them over to check their inspection or for swerving off the road if they're impaired or something could a passenger or a driver on the road see something (inaudible) or call the 1800 number, talk to the immediate dispatcher and then pull this passenger -- pull this driver off the road? Is that company doing that too? That's what -- that's another concern.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. No, that's great. And when you do the daily inspections and if you have multiple vehicles are you using one mechanic or do you have mechanics --
KAREN TURCIO: As long as they're certified mechanics.
SENATOR LEONE: So do you have a fleet of mechanics or do you have your own auto depot on premises?
KAREN TURCIO: We have our own but the owner opps could come to us or they could go to a -- as long as it's a certified mechanic to sign the bottom of the paper. That has to be signed and it has to be fixed if there's a problem with the solution to fixing the problem, making it safe is to make sure it's done through a certified mechanic.
SENATOR LEONE: And how large is your fleet? How many vehicles in your fleet?
KAREN TURCIO: We have about 31 I think. I can't -- I don't know off the top of my head. Maybe 31 vans. They're owner opps. They hold between seven to ten passengers. We have our private cars. We have about three limos. We have four buses. So we have -- we go to New York or in Connecticut. We're going to the airports. We're all over.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you for that clarification. I appreciate it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Any other comments? Thank you, Karen.
KAREN TURCIO: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thanks for waiting. Noe Castro.
NOE CASTRO: First of all I want to say thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me this opportunity. It's a privilege and an honor to be here before you and the committee. Before I begin I want to introduce myself. My name is Noe Castro spelled N O E, last name Castro C A S T R O. And I'm currently a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut. A very quick synopsis about myself.
I was born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut where I still live. I've been an Uber driver since April of 2014. My State Senator is Edwin Gomes and my Representative is Ezequiel Santiago. I'm a first generation American here in the United States. My family came to America from El Salvador and has made me appreciate everything our country and state has to offer. Before I joined Uber I served in the United States Air Force for about six years including serving various locations throughout the world.
After my enlistment period ended I joined the Connecticut Air National Guard where I serve today, where I went to also to the University of New Haven where I got my bachelor's in criminal justice and marketing. I graduated in 2014 of January and started looking for work just like many college graduates. When I first heard about Uber I saw the opportunity it had to offer and I was skeptical just like anybody else. But after doing the research and trying it out I was amazed.
While that was my primary source of income I've earned roughly $900 a week. I loved Uber because it was a game changer for drivers, partners and for riders and for someone that was looking for employment as well at that time as I graduated from college. It allows me to be an entrepreneur and really run my own kind of business. My riders always tell me how much they enjoy Uber because they have such a difficult time getting reliable rides from taxis. I've heard stories from riders of either -- they either get picked up -- can't get picked up because of the neighborhood in they're in or even get kicked out of the taxi because the ride is too short. With Uber that doesn't happen. And Uber's very big about discrimination.
And they will put a nip to that very quick. But even more than -- than the better experience for riders and an economic opportunity for drivers, Uber is providing much needed service in our communities in Connecticut. I now drive part time and work for the Connecticut State Department of Social Services as an eligibility worker helping residents apply for support services as food stamps and medical and things like that. This work is rewarding because I am serving my community. That's how I also feel when I drive for Uber platform.
I'm giving the people of the state of -- of this great State of Connecticut service that they really need and never had -- I mean need and never had, the ability to get where they want whenever -- whenever they want no matter what community or neighborhood they are from. My whole life has been driving -- was by providing them with the type of service and giving back to my country and my community. Driving with Uber has empowered me to do that while earning a comfortable living. I also believe that Uber brings something that cabs don't bring, is accountability.
We are accountable to the riders in a way taxis never have been from the rating system to needing to provide reliable rides to ride within minutes, something that cabs cannot do sometimes. That's the kind of accountability cabs have never had to live up to and that's why Uber has been so successful in Connecticut because riders prefer real accountably and customer service. I hope this committee and the state legislators will take action that helps Uber continue to provide this level unprecedented service to riders and better standards of living for drivers. Once again thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Noe. Very impressive. You're first generation you said?
NOE CASTRO: Yes, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you for your service to this country too.
NOE CASTRO: Thank you, Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Let me ask you a couple questions. You talked about rating. So what is it? The passenger has the ability what to send some type of information through the app to the corporation in regards to what their experience was with Uber?
NOE CASTRO: Correct. We have what's called a rating system between -- they rate us from one being the lowest and five being the highest of stars. And it averages if we exceed more than 7.75 then we're meeting the standards of providing exceptional service for Uber. For me for example Uber -- I'm a pretty high ranked individual. I'm 4.9. One of the top drivers here in the State of Connecticut. And it's not about the rating. It's about providing a service and the way customers can leave that feedback.
So something -- so if something was to go wrong Uber definitely would jump on and say hey why is this individual being rated law? What happened? What was the -- they will go and investigate and see what's going on. And there's more a sense of that accountability. So it's -- if the driver's a bad driver then Uber will be on it. You see versus if -- if was a poor drive you know they will jump on it as well because of the fact that you know after you get one star they're going to tell you why was it a one star? Was he a bad driver? Did he provide poor service? Was he late? Why was he late? And things like that. And I think that's a great way to keep accountability on both ends.
REP. GUERRERA: And if you don't mind me asking, what kind of vehicle do you drive?
NOE CASTRO: I currently drive a 2014 Ford Fusion.
REP. GUERRERA: And so take me through the process because I mean I've heard you know a number of individuals come up to talk about this. So I have the app on my phone. I need a ride. I download the app. It goes to you. All right. When do you -- when are you on the Uber insurance then?
NOE CASTRO: It goes on the Uber insurance once I turn on the app as a driver automatically the insurance kicks in on the commercial license.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Back up. Please back up.
NOE CASTRO: Commercial insurance.
REP. GUERRERA: Go back -- say that again.
NOE CASTRO: Once I click on the app to turn it on as a driver the insurance kicks in commercially.
REP. GUERRERA: You're -- the Uber insurance.
NOE CASTRO: Correct.
REP. GUERRERA: So once you hit it not that I'm in the vehicle but once you accept the app.
NOE CASTRO: Correct. Once I turn on the app as a driver that okay I'm available, I'm online it kicks in.
REP. GUERRERA: And how much insurance is that? Do you know?
NOE CASTRO: Right now the cover commercialized I believe is about $1 million.
REP. GUERRERA: And there's been some -- some in comments in regards that Uber drivers can pick and choose wherever they want to go and they won't go into certain areas of the state or whatever. What part of the State do you drive in?
NOE CASTRO: I drive -- I've been all over the State but I mainly drive in the Fairfield County. I've been in Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, anywhere in Fairfield County mostly. And I've been in all types of neighborhoods. I mean you name -- look I live in Bridgeport. I pick people up in there all the time and I've never had a bad experience. If the individuals don't have credit cards they have PayPal accounts and they're willing to use the PayPal accounts in place of the credit cards. There are different ways not just in credit card in paying for the service.
REP. GUERRERA: So would you have a problem you know if we put together regulations that would say that inspections, background checks, insurance, would you have a problem with that?
NOE CASTRO: Right now I would say that we as a driver are already having that done to us as background checks and inspections for the fact that when I first found out about Uber in April 2014 they asked for printed information that says that who am I, social security, anything I usually do for employment. They ask for who you are.
It took about three, four weeks to figure out -- to finally accept me as a driver for Uber. Even going back I've -- I've recommended Uber for other drivers and -- and some of my friends were not able to become Uber drivers because they said Uber's denied my application and I would ask them why. And they said it was because they had you know tickets that disqualifies for them from being drivers such as you know -- you know excessive speeding or aggressive driving and they also said they had too many violations.
And they were denied -- the application was denied by Uber. So I believe that Uber's doing a great job to these points very well where they're scrutinizing every application to make sure drivers are -- that they're putting on the road are representing what the philosophy is for Uber, safe drivers out on the road and providing as service for them for each customer.
REP. GUERRERA: What would -- obviously our report, you know -- what would happen if we decided to say you know we're not going to allow Uber in this State? What would you do for work?
NOE CASTRO: I think -- one thing I think that if that was to happen in think you'll not hurting only the drivers but I think the most important thing as we were talking about earlier is the consumers. We're hurting the consumers more than anything else because the consumer wants and they feel very safe and reliable about this application who are we hurting? I mean yes we're hurting the drivers, the ones that trying to make a living. Like for example me I was a graduate from a university out looking for work and Uber is right there and I was able to make some money to support my living and also my family.
And -- and now -- and now in turn is that consumers want it. They come to my vehicle and they say right off the bat thank you for coming and picking me up at 3:30 in the morning because there was no cabs available. Hey thank you for picking me up in New Canaan because no cabs available. That prevented me from driving drunk or under the influence. Which that tells me I provide a service.
I provided somebody from -- I prevented somebody from driving under the influence or -- or just walking in the cold because they were abandoned by a cab because they didn't want to drive that far or they didn't want to drive -- didn't want to drive from downtown train station to University of Bridgeport because the fares too short. These are the things that I hear on the road. And to me it's probably not serving Uber provides that service for this -- for these people.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Noe. I appreciate your comments and again let me just thank you for your service to our state.
NOE CASTRO: Thank you, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: You were Air Force.
NOE CASTRO: Yes, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: Senator Leone, you just put a smile on his face. Hold on. Any comments? Senator.
SENATOR MARTIN: One quick question. Thank you, Mr. Chair. I know. What type of inspections do you do to your vehicle and how often?
NOE CASTRO: I bought -- I bought my vehicle brand new. And what I do, I take it to the dealer and I tell him to schedule maintenance so I can keep the -- the car going. I make sure my brakes are good, make sure everything's good. I just recently just had my, you know oil change, tire rotation because the car's brand new so I'm just maintaining the vehicle according to the scheduled maintenance on the -- on the dealer's manual. But I do make sure that I have -- my car is always clean.
I always make sure my tires are properly inflated. And these are -- I take this personal pride because it's not only my work vehicle but it's also my personal vehicle which you know I drive my family around as well. So I'm not going to be driving -- if I'm going to be driving riders around I always -- you know and I expect the safety of my family to be in my vehicle I'm also going to make sure that same service provided to customers because I would treat every customer as though I'm riding my own family members in that vehicle.
SENATOR MARTIN: What type of requirement of inspection does Uber ask of you?
NOE CASTRO: They make sure that vehicle's no older than -- than ten years. They -- they do -- when I applied for the Uber app they asked that I make sure that I had a car that was 2005 or newer. And also make sure that -- because when I have customers also they rate us if we have you know messy cars, our cars sounds like our engine's going to blow up. And make sure -- and all that stuff is accountable.
So customers are able to rate saying this vehicle was not -- not drivable. You know think about it, say -- there's a lot of cabs out there that shouldn't be on the road to begin with but it's hard to maintain that maintenance like the lady said before. Like things are going to happen. But this is what's good about the rating system where the consumer is able to point out hey the -- the car was about -- the engine was smoking. And as able to get -- get the -- Uber is able to respond to that and telling the driver hey you can't get your car on the road on our platform until your car is fixed and it meets standards.
SENATOR MARTIN: So -- so I guess what I'm hearing you say is other than the rating by the consumer there's really no requirement of inspection by Uber.
NOE CASTRO: Well actually I have a decent car to drive put it that way where it's a 2005 or newer. So it just can't be like a Volkswagen -- 1980 Volkswagen like they said earlier.
SENATOR MARTIN: Thank you.
REP. GUERERA: Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Noe, for your testimony it was pretty comprehensive. But I just got one or two questions. You mentioned -- one of the questions was what kind of vehicle. You mentioned you had the Ford Fusion. How many hours did you -- would you or did you have to put in when you were making your 900 a week. And that was full time. Now you said you're part time. So what's the difference in a full time amount of hours versus a part time amount of hours?
NOE CASTRO: The full time -- and remember Uber takes 20 percent on top of our gross fares. So if you think about it I made over $1,000 to maintain 800, $900 you know average. And I'll put in depending between 30, 40 hours in a week sometimes. But sometimes I'll do less and I'll still make that much. Like right now last week I put in a little over 20 hours and I made almost $500. And that's something that's incredible. You cannot get anywhere else with part time. And to me that's been helping me financially to be stable and to provide some type of supplemental income. And something which it helps me and my wife who is unemployed at this time you know which is really a big help.
SENATOR LEONE: Now how -- how does it work if you -- if you're in Bridgeport and you get a call and you hit yes on the app and you're destination is all the way down to say New Canaan and you provide that service. And if you don't have another pick up in order to get back to Bridgeport are you then off the -- the Uber account, the commercial account and then you're back on your personal account in order to get home?
NOE CASTRO: No. I leave my app on. You can leave your app on and see if you can pick up fares on the way home so you don't have to worry about turning it off and say okay you're not covered. Once you -- once you turn it on until the time you decide to turn it off that's when the commercial insurance becomes turned off.
SENATOR LEONE: So if you leave it on but you're not picking up a passenger on a return trip or you're just waiting around you're still covered under the commercial license?
NOE CASTRO: Yes. Correct.
SENATOR LEONE: So your drive home from New Canaan back to Bridgeport is covered under the commercial insurance?
NOE CASTRO: Correct because I'm -- my goal is to find a fare in between from New Canaan and Bridgeport and hopefully somebody along the line needs a ride. And usually there is one especially near Norwalk and Fairfield.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. Now you said you bought a brand new vehicle. Did you purchase it or are you leasing it?
NOE CASTRO: I purchased it.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. And did you tell your -- your personal insurance that the vehicle was to become an Uber vehicle?
NOE CASTRO: No I haven't told them that.
SENATOR LEONE: If you were to tell them that what do you think would happen? Would your rates rise or -- I guess the question is why haven't you told them because if you're under the commercial expense I understand you're covered but why wouldn't you want your other insurance to know?
NOE CASTRO: Because of -- I didn't see the need to that -- do that before the fact that Uber has already offered me that they said they were going to insure me up to $1 million you know commercially. So I had -- I have saw no need for me to contact my insurance to say hey -- you know because I want -- first of all I want to make sure I'm covered as a driver because of the fact that you know I have a family, I don't want to be sued or anything like that. But Uber already provided that insurance so I saw no need to contact my insurance company in regards to that.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. I appreciate that. Well I'll just leave that at the moment. Again thank you for your service. I do like the fact that you were Air Force.
NOE CASTRO: I appreciate that.
SENATOR LEONE: And I'll -- and I'll make note of that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Any other comments? Representative Scanlon.
REP. SCANLON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And -- and Mr. Castro, needless to say thank you for your service and I would hire you for many jobs if you came into here and did this kind of interview. But what I'm concerned about is that nobody Uber ever did have this kind of back and forth with you to give you this job. And obviously I think I speak for all of us when I say you're a very impressive, well spoken, articulate obviously responsible guy given your service and what you do now with DSS.
But during your time when you did decide to become an Uber driver you went on the website similar to how I probably did it. Clicked on it. Went through it. At any time did anyone from Uber ever call you up and ask you any questions about your life? Did they ever verify your identity? Did they ever do any of that?
NOE CASTRO: On the application -- I don't know if you recall on the application it asked for certain information in regards to that if I ever had a driving experience, have I ever driven for any other companies, have I ever been laid off by those companies and why. And they -- you know and just little -- not too comprehensive but comprehensive enough to qualify you as a driver or disqualify you as a driver. I put in you know a little bit of who I am and that's about it. Once they -- I passed the background they contacted me. Hey, are you interested still in becoming a driver? Come to one of our seminars and we'll tell you more about Uber and see if that's something you still want to do.
SENATOR LEONE: So you went to one of the seminars but before that nobody ever called you and said hey Mr. Castro, tell me about your time in the Air Force. What did you do there? Tell me about your driving record. Nothing like that ever happened.
NOE CASTRO: Nothing. Everything was just in the application to see if you had any experience or not.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. Great. And just one -- one quick other question for you. Given where you're from and -- and the population you are -- you know you live around, one of my good who's on the committee, he's not here today, Representative Rosario who represents Bridgeport and when he -- we had the last time that Uber was here he asked a question which was are cities like Bridgeport are they underserved by Uber because there might not be as much of a use of iPhone and smartphone users than say in Guilford where I'm from.
NOE CASTRO: Okay.
SENATOR LEONE: Do you find that just talking to your neighbors and your friends and your family in Bridgeport? And as a Bridgeport Uber driver do you find that people are less typical to use Uber in a place like Bridgeport than they were say Norwalk or New Canaan or somewhere like that that you also drive?
NOE CASTRO: You know this -- the people I pick up in Bridgeport -- there's a growing trend in Bridgeport right now. At first when it first launched in April or May it was slow. It was not picking up. But this year I've noticed that a lot more residents of the City of Bridgeport are using the Uber app especially Sacred Heart students, UB students and a lot of professionals that travel back and forth from New York, Stamford to Bridgeport that life and reside in Bridgeport. I live right in -- you know in downtown and you know very -- and a lot of people use Uber around that area.
Is it still growing? Yes. It's still growing. Is -- you know and I think it's only going to get better because the sky's the limit. And I think as more people are more -- the younger generation and even the older generations are seeing wow this is -- this is very useful. I mean I'll tell you a personal story of just a few months ago. I picked up two blind couples and they came and they Ubered. I picked them up and you -- they were out with their sticks.
And they verified are you a no with cash (inaudible) from an Uber. I say yes I am. And they said -- and they make sure I was the driver and they got in. And I helped them get in that vehicle. And they would say they felt more safe being in my vehicle than a cab. And that -- and to me that's a big -- that's a huge, huge impact because if individuals like that are willing to use it just imagine the limit.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you very much.
NOE CASTRO: Yes, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: Are there any further questions? Senator Boucher followed by Representative Wilms.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you very much for your excellent testimony. It's really good to hear all sides of this issue. It's very important. I think someone raised the issue about the application process for Uber. But when you were describing it that you did it online, you filled out an application, they went and did a background check and then you got to actually have personal interaction with the folks at Uber. It seemed to me to be very similar to the way all jobs are now being recruited on the internet.
In fact many places don't want to see you. They don't want you to show up. They will send you all the way back to say get online, fill out an application and then they do their sorting, you know looking on that and if they feel that you've passed a certain level then they -- if you're lucky enough then they'll call you in and meet you for the first time in person. So has that been your experience as well?
NOE CASTRO: Yes. That's how I took it as because that's how I felt. They liked who I was. They just -- you know they were not too comprehensive like I stated earlier. And once they -- they -- my application was accepted, my background passed through them, they invited me to a seminar and said okay, here you go and this is the breakdown of how it works.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you very much.
NOE CASTRO: Thank you, Ma'am.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Representative Wilms.
REP. WILMS: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just a quick point of order, the -- you mentioned Sacred Heart University. That -- that university is dear to me since my daughter goes there. And she told me of a story thankfully it did not involve her but I guess it was a Saturday night. It was a late night party. Some of her friends had too much to drink and they needed to have a ride and fortunately they took an Uber. And really that prevented you know -- so there weren't intoxicated people driving a vehicle.
And so that was a very important thing that that driver. But I just wanted to point it out. You mentioned Sacred Heart University and it's right -- right on the Bridgeport border and my daughter goes there. And I appreciate your service. Thank you.
NOE CASTRO: Thank you. And you know it's -- it's a lot of college students more than anything else in that area. And for them to not you know -- not drinking and driving or walking while intoxicated it's -- we provide that safe -- safety you know net for them. Say you know what I can't find a ride let me Uber. And there's always going to be an Uber available for them. And it's something that you know these kids they get in and they're like I feel safe. And it's very welcoming.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Mr. Castro. Any further questions? Again thank you for your testimony. Thank you for your service and we appreciate your time.
NOE CASTRO: Thank you so much, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay next is Luiz G. Iaccino followed by Rene Hughes.
LUIZOUIS G. IACCINO: Hi, my name is Luiz Gustav Iaccino. I'm a representative of Greenwich Taxi. What I'm going to say right now this is very tough to make money. We work a lot. I started two years ago. And in the first year I start I make good money to take care of my family. And right now with the Uber coming to our area it's tough to make money. It's tough to take of our family. (Inaudible.) We're not decide to drive private people and we have some regulations to do. And you have us endorsement (inaudible). You and the -- and the world of regulations.
And that you got to respect the law. And that you got to respect example. We're from Greenwich Taxi. I drop people in Stamford. And a lot of people come from the train and ask me can you take me someplace? I say you see on my door it's a Greenwich Taxi. I cannot take people here. I've got to respect the people for the local. Uber don't respect nobody. You get the people everywhere. If you got to work in this state you've got to respect the law. That's easy. And I have family. I might looks like old but I'm a grandpa. And I have a family. And I love to take care of my family. And the Greenwich Taxi have a big story. It's not started yesterday. And the population for the Greenwich see we face all day, every morning. We start at three morning to go to three in the afternoon.
The population know we're faced. We drive the kids in school. We drive the people in their wheelchair. We drive the people to hospital. We drive the drunk people like the -- a lot of people -- a lot of guys say. We take care of the people in the -- in the Greenwich. Around the Greenwich and the Fairfield County. That's what I say that it's tough to make money now.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Louis.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: And I'm sorry. I know that everybody here need to make money. Everybody have a family. The Uber people have a family. We have a family. But do right. Work to the law. If it say have your endorsement (inaudible), have the right insurance and the -- and work for the communities. And it's safe.
REP. GERRATANA: Thank you, Louis. Quick question for you. You mentioned a while ago times were better and it was easier or you were able to make a little bit more money and now times are a little bit tougher. How many hours were you putting in when things were good and how many hours are you putting in now?
LUIZ G. IACCINO: When I start I would -- I would start at 4:20 in the morning. I wake up at three in the morning every day. And I work to 4:30 in the morning to three o'clock. Right now I got to work to 4:30 in the morning to eight o'clock in the night if I'm going to take care of my -- my bills.
REP. GUERRERA: So you're saying you have to put in more hours now to make the same amount of money that you were making before with less hours?
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yeah. Yeah.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Thank you for that. Representative Morin.
REP. MORIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Louis, welcome. Thank you for sitting here this long. You -- you work for Greenwich Taxi.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yes.
REP. MORIN: Do they provide you with a vehicle?
LUIZ G. IACCINO: No. I have my own vehicle.
REP. MORIN: It's your own vehicle.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yeah.
REP. MORIN: What are the plates on your vehicle?
LUIZ G. IACCINO: I have Greenwich Taxi plates.
REP. MORIN: Excuse me.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Greenwich Taxi plates.
REP. MORIN: Okay. So -- so if -- is that that -- I guess that's where I just keep on having this one issue is -- is are we all on the same playing field. And I -- I respect I think the gentleman before you. I get it. We all want to take care of our families. That's why we go to work every day.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: I know. I know.
REP. MORIN: Yeah. Yeah. There's a few of us up here that might just be doing it because it's fun but most of us go to work every day. Yeah you can laugh. It's okay. But most of us go to work every day to take care of our families. And I'm -- I'm confused a little bit of what you -- all the people that I'm hearing from the taxi industry have to go through, the regulations. Because I think it's the same service. Is -- do you -- would you agree with me? To some degree I mean if you looked at it. Right. You get a call, you go pick up somebody and you bring them here. Right.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yeah.
REP. MORIN: Maybe you bring them from Greenwich, the train station to --
LUIZ G. IACCINO: But I don't think it's fair. I mean work in the Greenwich Taxi. I take people from the -- if the people call me, this is my client. I can take it, right. If the people get off the train to the Stamford train and when I drop the people from the Greenwich to Stamford train, all right, the people get off of the train and ask me can you take me to the Stamford Hospital? All the time I'm asked I cannot take you guys there. I have respect for the DOT. I have respect for the law.
REP. MORIN: So you're abiding by the law.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yeah.
REP. MORIN: And that's why you can't do that. So the bigger issue and I --
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Why they don't --
REP. MORIN: -- we have to address it here. We have to address it here. The issue is they have to -- would have to abide by the same laws. It's only --
LUIZ G. IACCINO: (Inaudible) get people everywhere.
REP. MORIN: Yeah. I mean I just --
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Not same law.
REP. MORIN: I keep going back and forth.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: I think it's not the same law.
REP. MORIN: And it's not demeaning. I don't want anybody that's here on behalf of Uber. I have many friends that utilize it. I'm not demeaning the work you do. I'm not demeaning anybody. Trust me. That's the last thing I'm trying to do. But what I am trying to do is wrap my arms around, and my mind of why we have such strict rules and regulations for one and we don't seem to have any for the other. And -- and I'm not being paid by the taxi industry. Trust me.
I'm just trying to -- to get fairness and equity for working people. So I appreciate what you had to say. I mean I know that there's more that can be said over and over again but I wanted you -- and I'm glad you touched base on exactly the rules you know because I was always under the impression --
LUIZ G. IACCINO: You've got to respect the rules for everybody. Everybody making money (inaudible).
REP. MORIN: I was under the impression and I'm glad you brought that up, I didn't realize that if -- if I happened to be at a place that I just can't -- it's not like New York when we see everybody hailing a cab. It's not the same thing. You know you're at the train station common sense would make -- would make you think hey what the heck I'm here I can take this fare but you can't do that.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: When they drive people to -- to New York City and Manhattan a lot of people raise out their hand to -- for a stop.
REP. MORIN: Right.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: I say look at my -- my sign. I cannot take people here. I'm sorry. You got to call the local people here.
REP. MORIN: Well I appreciate your testimony and thanks for coming. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Senator Martin.
SENATOR MARTIN: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Hi, Luiz.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Hi.
SENATOR MARTIN: If we eliminated the boundary of the restrictions that you're under here where you can't drive them from point A to point B because your -- it's somebody else's district, would that help you make more money?
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yeah. But the -- not but you got to not make more money but you've got to respect for the -- the local people.
SENATOR MARTIN: But if we leveled the -- but --
LUIZ G. IACCINO: You take people everywhere what about the -- the (inaudible) couple years ahead (inaudible) for the cab people. I come from do nothing they start to get people everywhere. That's not fair.
SENATOR MARTIN: Luiz, do you do a daily inspection on your car?
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yes.
SENATOR MARTIN: Every day. Do you have to -- do you have to take it to someone to certify that you've done that inspection?
LUIZ G. IACCINO: Yes.
SENATOR MARTIN: Okay. And -- okay. Thank you.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: You're welcome.
SENATOR LEONE: Any other questions. Thank you. We appreciate the testimony.
LUIZ G. IACCINO: No problem.
SENATOR LEONE: Next Rene Hughes then followed by Eric George.
RENE HUGHES: Hi. I'm Rene Hughes, the owner of Lucy's Taxi, certificate number 1173. The DOT has set rules for taxicabs and rules and regulations for public safety. And it seems a lot of people are talking about --
REP. GUERRERA: Rene, if you could just please speak into the microphone so that we can pick it up.
RENE HUGHES: Okay. Was getting the proper license endorsement. Anybody that wants to work for me or any other cab company has to go through a process as you've heard other people mention before. The fingerprints through the FBI, the state background checks, sexual offenders list and medical exam from -- from a certified doctor for health reasons and a test at the -- at the DMV.
And that can take several weeks, like six to eight weeks for if someone wants -- wants the job of driving a cab. And then I heard someone else say that Uber can get it done in -- in four days. The -- also in order for me to register a cab I've heard tell about the inspections -- safety inspections. I had to put my -- my cab to a certified mechanic, have the form R361 done in order for -- for me to have my cars registered and that goes over the safety of the vehicles, the brakes, suspension, and -- and if I get pulled over I have to have this in the -- in the glove box. I haven't heard of an Uber driver having these safety inspections. They're required.
And I heard somebody mention about field inspection. I've had a driver one time get pulled over in New Haven. Being with the DOT, the DMV, the MTA and the New Haven police department and some other authority inspected a car, jacking it up on the side of the road for a safety issue -- inspection. Uber doesn't have any identification on their cars so how are they going to be able to be -- have a field inspection? Our price is the meters. We have meters on our car which are set by the Department of Transportation regulate it.
I'm not allowed to charge any less or more than what is -- what is presented on the -- on the meter. If I want to charge a special rate to like Bradley Airport for the customer is in my New Haven area I have to fill out a tariff form and get it approved by the Department of Transportation. Uber can charge -- they advertise that their prices are less than taxis. I've heard of -- I've -- you know hearsay about whether their prices is going higher. I'm not able to adjust those prices without a hearing.
I recently received a letter from the Department of Transportation that if I wanted to expand my franchise territory -- right now my franchise territory is New Haven, East Haven, Hamden and the West Haven. If I want to move into Milford I have to have an application fee of $2,000. If I want to pick up Milford to Stamford at this point I cannot do it. If I get caught I have to go to a DOT hearing and I can lose my -- my license. Uber doesn't have that regulation. They can pick up and drop off anywhere they want in the State of Connecticut.
Also if I'm at the train station if I want to pick up a customer at the train station in New Haven I have to have this permit that was issued by the Department of Transportation. If I do not have this in my window I am kicked out of the rain station. But Uber can go down there and pick up people at the train station.
SENATOR LEONE: Are you through or do you have anything more to add?
RENE HUGHES: That's all.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. Any questions? Thank you, Rene. You brought up some of the issues that we heard thus far and I think that will give something for the committee to -- to weigh in on to make sure that some of the stark differences are what we are going to have to address as a committee. But thank you. Next Eric George then followed by Milagros Martinez.
ERIC GEORGE: Representative Guerrera, Senator Leone, my name is Eric George. I'm president of the Insurance Association of Connecticut. And I offer testimony today in support of House Bill 6349. I'd like to start off saying that we are fully supportive of this new form of transportation and the innovation that it encompasses. We're here today to talk to you about the insurance issues that are related and embedded into this system. Most notably what we're looking for, what we're imploring that you do is give us clarity of coverage. And what we are asking is that in all phases of the TNC or transportation network company experience, phase one, two, three or four if we want to go out that far.
But phases one, two and three from the time that the driver activates the app saying that that individual is available for pick up all the way through the end of the driving experience where the passenger is departed from the car we have commercial coverage in place. The reason that we are asking for this is that personal automobile insurance policies as currently crafted can't cover commercial activities. There's a livery exclusion and I -- it's my understanding that every personal automobile insurance policy in Connecticut at least to my knowledge has such livery exclusions that necessarily exclude from that coverage commercial activities.
So to protect the consumer and this is something that Representative Morin said earlier, we should be looking to help and look out for the consumer. We completely agree with that. We define the consumer not only as the passenger but as the driver and quite honestly everybody who may or may not be coming in contact the vehicle as it is progressing. I do want to take this moment in a very respectful, very respectful way just to clarify something that was said earlier on by an Uber driver that currently commercial policy -- or commercial coverage is in place in all phases. I'd like to clarify.
In the initial phase of the driving experience when the app is activated but no one has yet identified that driver as to pick them up commercial -- the Uber commercial plan is contingent, quote unquote contingent. And it's the personal automobile insurance that would be primary. This is a problem. The reason this is a problem is because this is going to necessarily create a gap in insurance because you're putting in place a policy which cannot cover that activity.
And you're asking for a period of time where the policies basically are warring with each other to see who is going to apply. And we're going to see prolonged periods of time where people could be injured and there is not clarity as to how these injuries are going to be paid for. And if this were the case it would seem that the transportation network companies would be agreeable to having it clear that commercial insurance is primary through all phases of the TNC experience. I have attached language to my testimony which details out what the insurance provisions should be.
They were produced by much smarter people than me and it is something that would just be included we would hope in the legislation that you purport. It only deals with the insurance aspects. It does not speak to any other provisions in the bill. But again we're looking at this from the view of the consumer and to make sure that the consumer is as protected as possible. Thank you. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Eric. A couple questions. Is the industry out there right now carving out a segment for this type of rideshare program?
ERIC GEORGE: It's my understanding in certain jurisdictions that is true. I don't know of any that is happening right now in Connecticut. One of the reasons I don't think that you've seen a lot of movement in Connecticut yet is we don't have a regulatory system. What we've seen in most jurisdictions where I guess I'm going to call it a hybrid policy, Representative Guerrera, because I don't know what else to call it.
It's not a classic commercial policy. It's not a classic personal policy. So these policies that are coming in to -- to being it looks as if they're in place in jurisdictions where we already have a regulatory set up for background to govern TNC activities.
REP. GUERRERA: And do you --
ERIC GEORGE: And we would be -- we would be very supportive of -- of those types of policies being in place and being supported by a legislation that you'd consider.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Thank you. Senator Boucher followed by Representative Wilms.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you. If I might call you Eric after all the years that we've known each other here and you are very savvy about the political process and -- and everything that goes in it. And I'm -- we're all very interested in the insurance aspect of this very much because it's one of the -- probably most important aspects next to safety of course. So if I'm reading you correctly we're talking about essentially you know a private individual using their own car for their private purpose until they get a call asking them for a ride. And at that point when they're going to or from the pick up and whenever they're taking them would you consider that private time or commercial time?
ERIC GEORGE: I would consider when the driver indicates that the driver is available for pick up commercial time. I would assume -- I would make it akin to you have a store front, you open up the door. You don't necessarily have a customer in your shop but you're open for business. What the driver does with his or her time at that point I can't control. None of us can control. But if the driver has indicated that they're available for pick up, yeah I believe it's commercial time.
SENATOR BOUCHER: How about the return from the completion of the pick up?
ERIC GEORGE: I would believe that would be personal time. As long -- pardon me. Let me just clarify. As long as the driver is not also indicated at that point that he's -- he or she is available for pick up.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Okay. So the bottom line is if someone gets the call, they're ready to go because they really -- I don't know that they're on -- and maybe I'm wrong, they're on scheduled eight to five job or nine to five. It's whenever the call comes in. Correct?
ERIC GEORGE: It's whenever the -- I don't want -- I don't feel comfortable speaking on behalf of the TNC industry so I'll let them speak. My understanding is that whenever the driver wants to be available that is how -- when that period of time. It could be for as ever long as the driver would like to be available for pick up.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Okay.
ERIC GEORGE: My understanding.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Good. We could probably get a little more clarification on this on the model itself. And so it's -- it's pretty much agreed that once the call is placed they're ready to -- you know to be -- you know ready to serve their customer and on the way to the customer while their taking the customer to their appointed rounds and once they've completed that then they're basically using their automobile for their own private purpose. Essentially. And at that point their own insurance covers them or any activity they're engaged in. So the coverage is essentially during that period of time that they're transacting the business.
ERIC GEORGE: Correct.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Okay. I just want to be clear on that.
ERIC GEORGE: Thank you.
SENATOR BOUCHER: And that departs dramatically from the other model, the classic taxi model which is someone's on from a certain set period of time in the morning until in the evening. This is more of an entrepreneurial to be used at a time when they -- they have the time to devote to the -- to that service. And when they are not they're either doing other jobs, they're at home taking care of family or they're you know at school or other activities. Okay. Very good. Thank you for the clarification. Appreciate it.
ERIC GEORGE: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Representative Wilms.
REP. WILMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your testimony. My question is going to be a bit redundant and I apologize in advance but I just want to -- the way -- unique way my mind works, I work like in a timeline and I just wanted to just go through it with you quickly just so I understood. I can understand when personal insurance applies and when the commercial applies and then the -- I guess there's a period of conflict or discussion.
So if -- if I get a -- if I'm an Uber driver and I get in my personal car and I'm in my car my personal insurance would -- would be covering that. But then if I understand correctly the moment I turn my app on -- my Uber app on at that point -- and there's not a passenger in the car, that's where there is a dispute I guess. You would like to have the commercial policy apply and I guess Uber is saying the personal policy applies first. Is that correct?
ERIC GEORGE: It might be helpful if I talk about the phases as -- as I understand them.
REP. WILMS: Yeah. Okay. That's -- okay.
ERIC GEORGE: Okay. So let's talk. The phase that really isn't identified as a one or a two or anything like that, that's just you are a driver who works with Uber and you are -- you have not activated your app. You're sleeping. You're driving to the gas station. You're doing something unrelated. Period one begins when you indicate on your app that you're available to pick somebody up. And it goes until somebody has selected you to be picked up. That's period one. That's the questionable period.
REP. WILMS: Okay.
ERIC GEORGE: That's the one that we're talking about. Period two is when somebody has identified you. You're going -- and you're on your way to pick them up but they're not in your car yet. And then period three is they get in your car all the way until you drop them off.
REP. WILMS: Right.
ERIC GEORGE: So it's period one where you have indicated availability to drive but nobody has selected you. And that is the period where akin to opening up a store front it would be considered commercial activity. Again what you're doing with your time is beyond my or anybody else's control. Whether you're going to the movies or taking your kids to the soccer game or I don't know what else you could be doing. That's outside of our control.
REP. WILMS: Yeah. And I would agree with that. That makes sense to me as well. And then -- and I know the Senator asked about this. Can we get to then there's further periods. So the passenger is in the car and the passenger is dropped off. We had a previous speaker from Uber saying that he dropped someone off in New Canaan and then he kept his app still on and he was now driving back to Bridgeport. That would be similar to --
ERIC GEORGE: Yes. And I have to -- I mean I've not sat down with an Uber driver to see exactly how their app looks and how it's indicated and all of that stuff. I know how it works from the passenger's standpoint, what it looks like. But as I understand it if after drop off you are continuing to notify the world that you're available to pick somebody up yeah that's commercial activity.
REP. WILMS: That clarifies that for me and -- and your timeline's a lot clearer I think than my timeline would have been. So thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Any other comments? Thank you, Eric.
ERIC GEORGE: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Milagros Martinez followed by Sal Marotta.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Good afternoon members of the transportation committee and thank you for giving me this opportunity to testify and share my testimony. Once again my name is Milagros Martinez. And I live in New Haven, Connecticut where I'm raising my 17 year old daughter, Milanni and I'm proud to say that she's an honor student. I live in Connecticut for over 12 years. My State Senator is Gary Winfield and my State Representative is Patricia Dillon. I am an Uber driver partner. I started driving with Uber in May right when the company first came to Connecticut.
I have been amazed and impressed how quickly Uber has become a virtual part of the transportation network for riders in Connecticut. Driving has been easy, rewarding and helpful for me real living. I make between 700 and 800 a week and it makes me proud to drive with Uber because our riders truly appreciate the quality of service we provide. I appreciate this even more because of where I worked before I started driving for Uber platform. For several months last year I did customer service for a company called Logistic Care.
Logistic Care is under contract to provide rides for cab companies in Connecticut including Metro Taxi to people who are on Medicaid and Medicare. These are people who are often elderly and sick and need regular transportation for medical care and doctor's appointments. Rides were often booked days in advance. I worked for the -- I worked for a part of Logistic Care called where's my ride which is a customer care hotline for people to call into their cab that hasn't shown up. When I worked there I would get roughly 100 calls a day. Calls from sick people standing -- standing out in the cold who have been waiting for hours for a taxi simply never showed up.
These people were frustrated, angry and even sometimes in tears. They didn't need a cab. They needed to go -- to go see their friend or trying -- or trying to get to work. They needed a cab to get to their doctor's appointment or get medical care. Not having a reliable ride meant missing appointments and not getting the care they needed. After two months of this I left and I couldn't understand how we could be getting that many calls about cabs being hours late or never showing up. Okay. Today I am an Uber driver partner. I -- I see a different -- different story. We pick up rides -- riders within seven minutes on average. I have given rides to people going to the doctor and are really thankful they can -- they can get to where they need to go conveniently. The level of service which never existed with cab rides before is why it's so important that Uber remains in Connecticut.
My daughter Milanni also takes Uber. My boyfriend is a part time driver and also my older daughter is a part time driver for Uber. Okay. My family will -- will lose our ability to make -- you know to make a real living. I hope that this committee will consider the many benefits of Uber has brought to -- to our State, better transportation options, real economic opportunity for drivers like me and at the end to status quo which leaves riders out in the cold. We need Uber in Connecticut.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Ms. Martinez. Any comments? Thank you very much for your testimony. Yes. Sure. Representative Devlin, why not.
REP. DEVLIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your testimony. My apologies in advance if this has been asked of somebody already. I've been going between different hearings today. But as an Uber driver I'm just curious you said you were in New Haven so are you able to go anywhere in the State of Connecticut as an Uber driver or do you have sort of a geography of either New Haven County or something like that? Are there restrictions as to where you can go or can you just go anywhere?
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Well it's not like you can go anywhere in Connecticut. There are areas that is not Uber -- Uber -- that Uber's not there yet. But I can drive in New Haven. I could drive in Stamford. I could drive in Hartford. I could drive in areas like that.
REP. DEVLIN: Can you go out of state? Could you drive in New York?
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: No I could not.
REP. DEVLIN: Okay.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: If I bring a ride from let's say from Stamford into New York coming back actually the app turns off. And if they see you, you are not allowed to drive in New York. So automatically your app will turn off as soon as you drop off the ride.
REP. DEVLIN: Okay. All right. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Any other --
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Can I -- can I just say one thing?
REP. GUERRERA: Absolutely.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Okay. I'm from New York and I came here like 12 years ago and my car broke down and I needed a ride from Metro Taxi. And one of my incidents was I was -- I didn't know New Haven very well but I knew that from driving, taking the taxi once in a while I knew the route to get back to my home. Okay. He took me a different route and overcharged me and I refused to pay. He locked me in the car. It locked. And he said that I had to pay that. And I refused because I knew that from the train station to my house was a certain amount but he tried to charge me $15. Fifteen dollars is a lot of money. And I felt that I was being taken advantage of. And one of the things that I hear from customers is how convenient and how inexpensive and how safe it is. And they kind of tell you how much it can -- the ride could cost between a certain amount and a certain amount. Okay. I just wanted to share that.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Ms. Martinez. Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just wanted to go back to one previous comment when you were talking about going across state lines. So if you were to pick someone up in Stamford and they said they wanted to go to -- well obviously -- let me -- let me think. You wouldn't pick up that -- you wouldn't pick that person up to go to New York because it would have been on the app saying that would have been the destination correct?
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: You wouldn't know. You get, we say pinned okay, and you get to the destination. You don't know where you're going until they come into the vehicle and they already put in their destination.
SENATOR LEONE: So you don't know the destination until you're -- until the consumer is in your vehicle?
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Correct. Because you cannot -- you cannot start -- you cannot start the ride -- start clocking them until they're in your vehicle.
SENATOR LEONE: Phase three as what a previous testimony person said. When they're in -- when -- when they're in your count and it starts the coverage -- part of the coverage.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: I'm sorry.
SENATOR LEONE: That's okay. I'm just going off of previous testimony that the -- the person was explaining when you pick up a call, when you take the app and when the person's in the -- in your vehicle there's different types of coverage under the Uber account.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Right.
SENATOR LEONE: But that wasn't my question. My question then is if the person gets in your car and says they want to go to New York and you're not allowed to go to New York then what you tell that you're sorry you can't take the fare? Or you can only drive them as far as the line?
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Well if that was -- well if that was the case and we were not allowed to go to New York, no we would not -- we would not. We'd have -- we'd have to cancel the ride and not only cancel the ride but also send an email. You know at least I would send an email to Uber letting them know the reason why I cancelled out the ride or they would cancel out the ride.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: But we're not allowed to go to New York. But we are allowed to drive and take a customer -- a client to New York but automatically it shuts off in New York. So we're not allowed -- we cannot bring someone back. And I had an incident that I had a customer and he wanted to come back but due to the fact that I cannot -- it's like almost -- it's almost picking up a ride. Okay. But legally I cannot so I had to tell him that he had to request another driver in New York to bring him back.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. So just let me clarify. You can take the across -- you can go one way. You can take him to his destination, across the state line to a location in New York you just cannot wait for him and pick him up in New York to bring him back to Connecticut.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Correct.
SENATOR LEONE: And then if he did want to come back to Connecticut he would have to contact a New York Uber driver to come across to Connecticut.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Right. Because technically it's like picking up a ride.
SENATOR LEONE: Yes. Okay. I just wanted to understand that because the previous testimony -- when you first said it, it made it sound to me anyway that you couldn't cross the state line.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Okay.
SENATOR LEONE: But you are able to cross a state line one way.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: Correct.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. Just wanted to clarify that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Any other comments? Thank you, Ms. Martinez.
MILAGROS MARTINEZ: You're welcome. Thank you. Have a good night.
REP. GUERRERA: You too. Sal Marotta.
SAL MAROTTA: Good afternoon. My name is Sal Marotta. I'm the owner of Ambassador Wheelchair Services in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. I wanted to talk today about pricing in a tariff and our permits. I'm regulated -- Ambassador's regulated by the Department of Transportation. I have DOT authority to operate in a livery capacity.
We operate sedans and I have wheelchair accessible vans. I'm also regulated by the Department of Health for wheelchair vehicles. And I've heard a lot of talk here about being on a level playing field regarding the insurance, drivers having public service license and the background checks. And my company again is regulated through DOT so I'm required to have a million five insurance policy at Department of Motor Vehicles. I can't register any vehicle without that certificate of insurance there.
All our drivers have public service with endorsements for the vehicles they drive and passengers they transport. Well one of my concerns here if a client calls me and they want to go from Rocky Hill to the airport or shopping I have to follow my tariff from DOT. There's a price in there that includes -- there's mileage and it goes by time from your headquarters. My headquarters is in Rocky Hill. When I pick up that client my vehicle if I'm using the DOT vehicle has to be a livery vehicle, a livery plate on that vehicle.
These other companies can show up with any type. If they're using their personal vehicle they have their own regular passenger plate. And that's one of the issues I think if we're talking about a level playing field here we need to talk about these other two issues. The pricing that I have to follow. If I'm taking you to the airport or the mall it's not any old price that I come up with. I have to follow what's in my tariff. And also I have to use the proper vehicle. If I show up there with a regular I could find by DOT. DOT has done that in the past. Thank you. If you have any questions.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Sal. Any questions for Mr. Marotta? Thank you, Sal. Thanks for waiting. Ismail Benhakki. Ismail. Michael Cacioppo.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Good afternoon.
REP. GUERRERA: Good afternoon.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: And thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today. My name is Michael Cacioppo. I was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. And have spent my -- just about my entire life living in New Haven, Connecticut. I currently live in North Haven and my State Senator is Leonard Fasano and my State Representative is James Albis. I am a driver partner with Uber. And I have spent my -- the majority of my professional career as a taxi driver.
I drove for Metro Taxi on and off for the last 22 years. I started there in 92 actually. So I have experience in doing taxi driving and doing Uber driver. Speaking for over 20 years driving a taxi I want to urge this committee to please pursue sensible regulations that help Uber continue to help drivers like me earn a better living. Now when I was driving the cab my average work week was about 85 to 90, 95 hours a week. Being a taxi driver is that you have to lease the cab from the company. In my situation I always worked for Metro Taxi.
Now there's a couple different levels of paying the lease, how much they are. But if you're your own operator I believe it's 567 a week. If you're a regular lease it by the week it's either 750 or if it's even more if you drive one of the natural gas taxis that they have. It's actually up to 837 a week. Plus take into consideration you pay for your own gas.
REP. GUERRERA: I'm sorry. Just back up one quick -- did you say -- how much was it $750 a week?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Seven hundred fifty dollars a week if you drive one of their sedans. If you drive one of the natural gas cabs that they have it's $837 a week. You also pay for your own gas every day. The taxi driver has no choice but to work a lot of hours in order to bring home maybe three, four, five, $600 for themselves. Being an Uber driver now I had decided to make a business decision. I decided to join Uber. I make approximately on the average seven, eight, nine, sometimes a thousand a week by working 45 to 55 hours a week.
I drive a 2013 Nissan Rogue. The customers that we pick up and I mostly stay in the New Haven area and I take the customer wherever they want to go. They love the service of Uber. We give a service that no taxi company can match. I'm saying this because I was a taxi driver and now I'm an Uber driver. I go and I know the other drivers go in any neighborhood.
I go to any part of New Haven, any street to pick up any customer that requests an Uber ride. As a taxi driver I was robbed at gunpoint at nighttime driving a cab, put a gun to my head and taking my money that I worked hard for. I lose the money. The driver loses the money not the taxi company. But the driver does.
If you get in an accident driving a Metro Taxi and it's your fault they make you pay every week. A lot of people don't realize that but that's what happens. If it's your fault you're going to be paying for that accident. Now being an Uber driver is that the customer gets an experience like no other. We drive nice cars. We dress very professorial and we act professional to the drivers and to the -- to the passengers that we pick up. We -- we -- we -- just that the biggest obstacle I think was being with the taxi driver is that the taxi system is broken up.
Okay. I had no choice at the time to participate if I wanted to work. I don't want to be unemployed. I wanted to work to take my -- take care of myself and my family. Okay. No one likes to be unemployed so they have to do what they have to do to be able to take care of the family.
REP. GUERRERA: Michael, the three minute bell went off.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes. Oh, okay.
REP. GUERRERA: So I apologize about that.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Okay.
REP. GUERRERA: Is there anything else you just want to wrap up real quick?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: I just want to say quickly that I know one of the questions that one of the reps asked before is that why people are using Uber more than the taxi. It's because we give better service. That's one of the reasons. Okay. And just to clarify one thing is that someone mentioned that we go in the train queue line. We do not go in the train queue line.
When a customer gets on their app and wants to get an Uber car we always call the customer up ahead of time when we're one minute, two minute away. They can see on their app what kind of car we are driving. They see the picture of my face. They know exactly what eth driver looks like. We don't go in the queue line. We go to train stations but not in the queue line and pick up our customer as they're waiting for us. That's how that works. I just want to clarify that that we do not go in anybody's queue line to take any customer away from them. We do not do that.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Thank you, Michael.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: A couple questions. So -- so to lease the van from -- from Metro you're paying $837 out of your pocket?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's correct. That is for a natural gas vehicle. It's called MV1 which is pretty larger than the transit which is like a box.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Okay. And if it's a regular vehicle?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: If you're leasing it by the week it's 750.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. So I mean on an average then how much are -- if you don't mind me asking when you're working for a taxi industry then you have to put in almost 90 hours a week.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Absolutely. Absolutely. Without a doubt.
REP. GUERRERA: Yeah. I mean like how many -- how many fares would -- I'm just, I don't know what the fare amount but I mean what's an average fare then? How many would you have to pick up per week?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: You would have to pick 25, 30 a week -- excuse me, a day. I mean you have to put in a lot of hours because if you don't you're working for the taxi company. You're not making any money for yourself.
REP. GUERRERA: I get that, Mike. But also you know that too when you go into that. Correct?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Absolutely. That's correct.
REP. GUERRERA: You do know that.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That is correct.
REP. GUERRERA: And you made a comment, if you're -- if you're involved in an accident because I thought the taxi cab you know was either self-insured or I think they're - -in fact they're self-insured. If I'm correct.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes.
REP. GUERRERA: So why do you have to pay?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's a very good question. I don't know the answer to that. To be honest with you I don't. I would be lying to you. If it's your fault and you have an accident --
REP. GUERRERA: Did you ever go through this?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: I beg your pardon?
REP. GUERRERA: Were you involved in an accident?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: No but I know many of my taxicab driver friends to this day tell me all about it because some of them are still paying for an accident they had from six months ago because it was their fault. Okay. And they have to pay for it.
REP. GUERRERA: All right. Let me ask you another question here. You as an Uber driver then, and I'm not trying to pry into how much you make and so forth but of that fare how much do you get out of it?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Well every fare that I do Uber takes out 20 percent.
REP. GUERRERA: They take 20.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's correct.
REP. GUERRERA: And how many hours are you putting in a week?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Between 45 to 55 on the average. I'm working half the hours for more money than I was working 90, 95 hours. It gives me a better change to have a better life. Just one quick thing, Sir, is that you know the great State of Connecticut which I was born in is that competition is good. The problem was that the taxi industry especially Metro Taxi had a monopoly here. Competition comes in and we help the consumers.
REP. GUERRERA: I don't want to -- you know, Mike, with all due respect I don't want to again start looking at who's a monopoly, who's not a monopoly.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Okay.
REP. GUERRERA: You know I'm just saying.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: I understand.
REP. GUERRERA: All right. I mean people choose to where they want to work.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's true.
REP. GUERRERA: All right. And obviously I feel bad that someone has to work 90 hours to make a paycheck because I -- you know that's a lot of -- that's a lot of hours. It's a lot of hard work. But given that I hope they understand that that's the business they chose and that's what they're doing. But correct me if I'm wrong because I thought -- do Uber drivers ever -- you guys don't hail. Right. I mean.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: No we do not hail. We get our jobs from every time an Uber customer gets an app and requests an Uber car. That's the only way we get our customers. That's the only way. We do not hail.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Actually two of my three questions you astutely asked for me. So my third question as I'm trying to think this through. And you may not know the -- how many Uber drivers are in the State of Connecticut. But do you lose -- have you ever lost fares to other Uber drivers? Do they click on the app faster than you are able to? How does that work?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: No, Sir. What happens once a customer requests an Uber car the closest Uber car to that person that just requested it gets that fare? There's no scooping -- what we used to call in the taxi industry, no scooping. No other driver could get there before me and get it because they don't know what the job -- where the job is at all. Only I know that.
SENATOR LEONE: So if you're the closest one you get first crack. If you decline then it's the next nearest and then the next nearest and so on until someone picks up.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's correct. That's correct, Sir.
SENATOR LEONE: So the chances of someone being stranded and never being up or not being picked up in the best of locations doesn't always come to fruition?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That does not come true because even if I say decline it or I don't pick it up that call that I'm getting on the beep is that the next closest Uber driver to that destination will get offered that job.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. I appreciate that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: You're welcome, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: Representative Carney.
REP. CARNEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Michael, thank you for coming. I just have a few questions about I guess your experience as -- as an Uber driver. One of the things -- so you did mention that when you were a taxicab driver you had to pay about $750 and that -- I just want to make sure I'm clear on this, that did include insurance on the car?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's correct.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. It didn't include gas.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: No, Sir.
REP. CARNEY: Did you use that cab for your personal use as well?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's correct. Yes I did.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. All right. So in exchange for that you still are paying for a car right now. Correct?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes but this is my --
REP. CARNEY: Right.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: At the moment as an Uber driver that's my car. My own car.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. But you're -- I mean you paid for that car so it's --
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes. That's correct.
REP. CARNEY: But it's -- okay. And are you still -- you're still paying for gas?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes, Sir.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. But -- and you still have personal insurance. Right?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes. That's correct, Sir.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. All right. So -- but -- so really what you're saving is that -- whatever that overage from that 750 a week versus what you'd probably be paying a week right now which would be significantly less.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: And I'm saving on gas also. Instead of paying like 30, $35 a day driving a taxi because the V8 big cars --
REP. CARNEY: Okay.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: -- I'm driving a Nissan Rogue where I'm using $15 a day.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. All right. So when you go to pick somebody up you said you don't get -- you don't get in the queue line. How -- I know in New York City when there's -- I've used Uber in New York City there's sort of a white piece of paper that says Uber. Is that the exact same thing that's done in Connecticut?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: No we don't -- we don't do that, Sir.
REP. CARNEY: You don't do that. Okay.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: No, Sir.
REP. CARNEY: So how would you get -- how would somebody know who you are?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Because when they request an Uber car it automatically pops up the driver's name --
REP. CARNEY: Okay.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: -- what I look like, and what kind of car I'm driving.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. So it'd have the color of your car, type of your car.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Exactly. And also what I do is a lot -- I call them a minute or two before I'm arriving and let them know I'll be coming in a minute or two, look for my vehicle and they're waiting for me and I pick them up.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. You call them you said?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes.
REP. CARNEY: Do you have -- I mean I'm just -- I'm just you know trying to be clear on this. So do these -- you might not know the answer to it though but I'm just wondering if there's a regulation in -- for Uber in place to have -- because I'm a little concerned about calling the customer up. Do you have a hand's free device in your car?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: I have that on my -- my -- my -- you know.
REP. CARNEY: Right. Like a Bluetooth or something like that.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yeah. Exactly a Bluetooth.
REP. CARNEY: Do you know if that's standard policy. I'll probably have to ask one of the Uber people but --
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: No. What happens is that there's another way is that on the -- on the app on the phone they have a once there's an arrived slide button that says I arrived there.
REP. CARNEY: Okay.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: I could hit that or do both actually. Whatever you know -- but I just wanted to let them know that I'm going to be a minute or two because sometimes when you hit the arrive button that goes to the phone saying I'm there but a lot of times it happens they don't look on their phone so they don't know I'm already there.
REP. CARNEY: Okay.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yeah.
REP. CARNEY: All right. And one last thing I just has a question on is that the tipping mechanism. I know that the price is included but I mean I know if -- if say I'm at -- at a wedding and they say oh no tipping I might - -I might slip the bartender five dollars or something and they'll take it. But is that -- I just want to make sure that if the customer knows if it's clear that they don't have to tip.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: yeah. They know they don't have to tip. Exactly.
REP. CARNEY: All right.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's -- that's correct.
REP. CARNEY: So -- okay. All right. Do you know how clear that is or what's -- I don't use the app so I'm just kind of trying to figure this out.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: I never --
A VOICE: They don't tip.
REP. CARNEY: They don't tip. Well I mean I'm just -- so I'm just saying if I was -- if I was a driver and somebody said no I want to give you 20 bucks and oh no, no I can't accept. Oh, not it's serious -- I -- you know sometimes when people want to give a tip, I know I mean that's how I am at weddings you know. I used to -- I used to bartend so I know these guys are doing -- you know typically they're doing a good job. Just wondering.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yeah. I think on their app when they want to load the app I believe that it states something like that. I'm not --
REP. CARNEY: Okay.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: I really don't know because I don't' have the app work for that.
REP. CARNEY: Okay.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: So I'm not sure.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. All right. Thank you. Well thank you very much for your testimony.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: Any other comments? Michael, something's not sitting well with me right now. I get that you choose the position that you want to be in.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: That's correct.
REP. GUERRERA: All right.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: And -- and sometimes obviously depending on the circumstances you may have no other chance to do what you have to do.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: And you try to do the best that you can. But something is -- what I'm not happy what I just heard though. And I don't want to -- when you said there's an accident and there's insurance and they're making you pay for it are you certain about this?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Absolutely. One hundred percent. I have some of my taxi friends who I'm still friends with that switch over sometimes to Uber but still some of them are still there where they are still paying on their accident because it was their fault and they are still paying on their accident.
REP. GUERRERA: But how are they paying for it if you have insurance?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: What happened is that -- what Metro Taxi does is that --
REP. GUERRERA: Well I don't want to -- I don't want -- please, I don't want to --
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: They still have to pay for it, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. All right. Would you do me a favor?
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Yes, Sir.
REP. GUERRERA: All right. My aid's sitting right over there, Mary Anderson, can you give her your information? I want to talk to you.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Absolutely.
REP. GUERRERA: Any other comments? Thank you.
MICHAEL CACIOPPO: Thank you. Thank you very much.
REP. GUERRERA: Steve Delvalle.
A VOICE: But I was in the accident.
REP. GUERRERA: No. No. No. Excuse me, Sir. Sir, you cannot just come up here. All right. If you want to sign up by all means you can do that. Steve Delvalle. Steve? Is this Steve. No. Jean Cenejuste. Jean.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Good afternoon. Good afternoon. My name is Jean Cenejuste working with Metro Taxi in Bridgeport. I'm a self contracted. I working with Metro like probably on five years ago. I don't have nothing to complain about Metro. Only one thing sometimes when I am at the train station there are some drivers like gypsy cabs they pick up people from the train station and the three issue we mention I will like -- I would like we stand up that three issues.
It will be good for Uber because sometimes when we went -- when we go to Sacred Heart Universities -- University there are some, lot of drivers we don't know what kind of cars is that they pick up like seven, ten people in one car. And that's why it will be good for Ubers. You know. And it was very bad. And that's why I used to go there and I didn't go there anymore. You know. It was a big, big problem. We have to -- talking about that if DOT they have to send somebody to watching these students over there. You know by the accidents. They are -- will be a very big trouble. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Jean, very much for waiting and giving your testimony. When you say gypsy cabs, Jean, are we talking -- are you referring to Ubers or other people that -- or you don't know?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: And that's why I cannot describe them.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: If it's Uber or --
REP. GUERRERA: Somebody else.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: -- somebody else. That's why I don't know.
REP. GUERRERA: Fair enough.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: That's why I said it's good for Ubers you know to follow the rules.
REP. GUERRERA: Sure.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: You know.
REP. GUERRERA: And we want to do that. We want to put rules in place that obviously is fair for not only for the consumer but in the industry and how we go about that.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Any comments for Jean? Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Yes. Thank you. You mentioned some of these other type of cabs putting in multiple people in the -- in the vehicles. For the taxi service that you're with how many people can fit in a vehicle?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Four peoples. Four people.
SENATOR LEONE: So four people max. So you have seating for four right. So you can't put in five or six or seven.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: No.
SENATOR LEONE: Now are you telling us that you've actually seen these other services allowing more people in the car than are allowed to sit in the car or are -- if there's seating for three they could hold three people?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: They stand up in the car/
SENATOR LEONE: Say that again.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: They stand up in the car.
SENATOR LEONE: Standing up in the car.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Yes exactly.
SENATOR LEONE: So they're -- they're overfilling their vehicle?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Exactly.
SENATOR LEONE: So if there's only seating for three they'll pack in five or six or however many they can get?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Sometimes. If DOT send some -- sends somebody over there they will catch a lot of drivers. You know.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. But you're -- you're not able to say which company those people -- those type of drivers are -- are doing that. It's not specifically an Uber or anybody else or is it?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: No. But it's not -- you can't identify -- identify the cars because they are not taxis, like gypsy cabs.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. And so if -- if we were to try and do something with the committee and had signage on the cars then if that were to continue at least we would know who was doing it. Correct?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Exactly.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. And before you go and not that you have to speak for the company but you are with Metro Taxi. The previous speaker just mentioned that in order to be a Metro Taxi driver if you were at fault for an insurance -- for an accident you are held liable for that accident. You would have to pay for damages. Is that correct?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: I can't talk about it now but you know. No. But I --
SENATOR LEONE: Well you haven't had an accident is what you're saying?
JEAN CENEJUSTE: No. I didn't make any accidents.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. Fair enough. We'll move along. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator Leone. Again, I don't want to -- this is another topic for another day I think. Anybody else? Thank you, Jean, very much for coming.
JEAN CENEJUSTE: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: And thank you for waiting. Elizu Dasilva. I'm sorry. Oh, okay. Elena Johnson. Elena Johnson. No. Gustavo Mesquita --. Mesquita. Elizu Desilva. Come on up. Thank you.
ELIZU DESILVA: Hi. My name is Elizu Desilva. I represent the Greenwich Taxi. And what I have to say it's that Uber doesn't respect the law because about one experience I had. I dropped off a client in New York State and on the way back I didn't have no customer in the car. The police officer stopped me, pulled me over. And ask me what -- what I was doing there. I said I be coming from Manhattan. He said for what. I said I dropped off a client. He said can you prove that. I said yes. I was lucky to have a house charger -- house accountant. I showed the police officer.
He asked me for my medical, asking me for my insurance and my driver's license. He checked and said you okay. You can go. And that also the TOC police they make you bait with us, with the taxi. Every taxi. So why the regulations is only for the taxi. Uber don't have that problem. They go in our area, pick them up. They go anywhere. They pick them up. They go under the police noses anywhere. The TOC police don't know who they are. They think they are a regular car. So nothing happens to them. If he -- I pick him up in an airport the TOC pick me up. I pay a $600 ticket. They tow away my car and they're arresting me. The Uber drivers don't have that problem. Why?
SENATOR LEONE: Are you waiting for a response?
ELIZU DASILVA: That's all I have to say.
SENATOR LEONE: Fair enough. Are there any questions? Yes. Representative Arce.
REP. ARCE: I just heard what -- what you say, Sir. Over here.
ELIZU DASILVA: Yes.
REP. ARVCE: I just heard what you say on your testimony. This happened in New York or in Connecticut?
ELIZU DASILVA: New York State. And we was at West Chester Airport, the TOC police was a bait. He asked me a few questions if I can drive him somewhere. I saw something he was trying because it make no sense what he said. And that what they do with the taxis. You know. And the Uber don't have that problem because they don't have no identification. They don't have signs. They don't have nothing. It looks like a regular car.
REP. ARCE: I understand what you're saying but please realize that you're talk about two different states with two different laws and different regulations. So we really don't have no jurisdiction New York -- in New York State. But I want to ask you because I heard this prior I just want to get it clarified. So a taxi in Connecticut who go to New York could drop off a client.
ELIZU DASILVA: Yes.
REP. ARCE: But they cannot pick up anyone in New York to bring to Connecticut. Is that correct?
ELIZU DASILVA: Yes but they are in our areas too. They are in our area all over in Connecticut.
REP. ARCE: Who's in the area? The taxi or Uber.
ELIZU DASILVA: Uber. Uber. Uber.
REP. ARCE: Okay. All right.
ELIZU DASILVA: Around the stations, picking up.
REP. ARCE: All right. Thank you, Sir.
SENATOR LEONE: Representative Geigler.
REP. GEIGLER: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just -- Sir.
SENATOR LEONE: Come back. There's still some questions. We want to get to an answer for your why.
REP. GEIGLER: No I have two questions for you. If you take someone from the Connecticut to New York, say to the airport can Greenwich Taxi call you and tell you that there's someone waiting at the airport and could you bring them back to Connecticut?
ELIZU DASILVA: Yes. If it's by call I can do that.
REP. GEIGLER: They can do that.
ELIZU DASILVA: Yes.
REP. GEIGLER: But you just can't stand there and wait.
ELIZU DASILVA: No. I can't just stand but (inaudible).
REP. GEIGLER: Okay. So you can pick up someone from Connecticut in New York providing Greenwich Taxi asks you to do that.
ELIZU DASILVA: Yes. Yes.
REP. GEIGLER: Okay. My other question to you is that and we've been hearing that consistently today about how there's no identification for Uber. There's nothing on their cars.
ELIZU DASILVA: No. It's a regular plate and nobody can see it. Can think they're a regular car.
REP. GEIGLER: Okay. So how do you know when you're at the airport and there's a car picking someone up that it's Uber that's doing that?
ELIZU DASILVA: Nobody can say anything because it -- even the police.
REP. GEIGLER: But you don't know for a fact that it's an Uber car that's picking someone up.
ELIZU DASILVA: No because it's a regular car.
REP. GEIGLER: So -- but it could be somebody else that's down at the end airport picking somebody up.
ELIZU DASILVA: Could be somebody else.
REP. GEIGLER: But you're just making the assumption that it's a Uber car.
ELIZU DASILVA: That's why nothing happen to them.
REP. GEIGLER: Okay. Well thank you for your answer.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any other comments? Thank you, Sir. Gustavo. Gustavo. No. Linda Johnson. Elena Johnson. I'm sorry. Is she here? No. How are you?
ELENA JOHNSON: Fine. Sorry. I always choose to go to the lady's room at the worst time.
REP. GUERRERA: No. Not a problem. Thanks for waiting.
ELENA JOHNSON: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: How are you?
ELENA JOHNSON: Do I need to press the button. Oh it's on. Okay. My name's Elena Johnson. I am currently working for Metro Taxi in West Haven. I am classified as an independent contractor. And if you have any questions regarding my lease I am one of the drivers that pay $810 a week for my taxi. So and I've been doing it for about five years with them right now. First issue I have with Uber -- there's a lot of nice guys driving for Uber and we have a lot of nice cab drivers. The problem is you can't identify an Uber car. And this is -- it's causing a problem within the public because some people know about Uber. They're very familiar with it.
Some people don't know. And then there's some people like it's a -- it's a credit card cab service right. And I explain to them what it is. Now we're having a lot of problems in New Haven with guys that aren't Uber cars driving up to the taxi stands and saying hey I'm an Uber car, get in, get in, get in. And a lot of the kids paying by credit cards are jumping in. Some of them paying cash are jumping in. They technology these days a lot of people have cell phones and they can order a credit card swiper and swipe that through their phone.
These kids do not know where half their credit card information is going because they're getting into a lot of gypsy cabs and we're having a lot of problems with that in -- in the New Haven area. Another issue I have is the amount of passengers they're putting in their cars. It can happen in the taxi industry but it's happening a lot with them. I work days. I work nights. I work all the taxi stands. I work the train station in New Haven. I also work Tweed New Haven Airport so I do multiple things. I also have personal clientele. The problem is when you go up to Quinnipiac University a lot of kids they're just college kids and you don't realize these are kids we're dealing with.
They're trying to put four, six, seven, eight kids in the car just to save on some money. But now with the ridesharing service what they're doing, I've talked to a few of the kids, the put four kids in the car and they say hey we'll throw you $20 cash if you let two of our other friends ride in the car too because the cabs won't take more than four passengers. Metro Taxi's very strict about that. If you are caught taking more than four passengers they will terminate your contract. You are done. Now you can say how Metro's going to find out?
Most of their cars have cameras. And then with all those cars on the road the other drivers they will snitch you out. So that's a big issue we're having and another issue I have is Uber encourages a lot of people to sit in the front seat. Now temptation is everywhere. And unfortunately the hours I work I pick up a lot of drunk college girls and you see what's on the New York taxicab confessions where the kids do crazy stuff to get a free taxi ride.
Well I'm a female driver and I can tell you I've been solicited by female passengers, college students desperate just for a ride home. Then when I say hey we take credit cards. Oh, you take credit cards. Oh thank god. And then I say why are you selling yourself short? I had two young ladies say listen we only have $20 we know it's $30 to get home. We'll do anything for a ride home. I said really anything no matter how dirty it is. Anything. Yeah you name it anything. And they were really talking in a provocative manner. I said to the young ladies I said okay anything. Yes.
I said okay you're shorting me about ten dollars so I could use both of you for about an hour. I need you to come over and help me clean my house and do some yard work just for an hour. You know what they said to me, no way. What do you mean no way? What were you insinuating you were going to do for me? They go well you know. And I said you know something you ladies are very intelligent but right now you're being very stupid and unfortunately you know drunk college kids will do drunk stupid things. And unfortunately I feel that they do.
Who do we complain to when we see the Uber cars acting up? When if I'm acting up which has happened on a rare occasion, going too fast in a zone, where does the public complain? How do we protect the other drivers on the road? Now if I swerve chances are someone could see my taxicab number in the back, the telephone number, the fact that I work for Metro Taxi. And the majority of the time if they pull on the side of me they go well the girl driver, the girl driver and they call dispatch. That complaint is addressed immediately.
I get a call immediately from my dispatcher. What happens? You know someone says you just swerved you tried to cut them off. You know sometimes it's true and sometimes you know it's -- you know oops it was a mistake. You know and then sometimes it's someone just calling and you know phony calls because they're day cabs. But I mean this is the reason why you need regulation I mean because if someone's not -- and it's not all people. It's just some. Excuse me.
You need supervision. You need regulation. I mean because if you turn your head away -- I had an experience when I where on my way to Tweed New Haven Airport the other night. And a car zoomed right by me. And I said oh my god that guy's going really fast but we're in one lane of traffic. He's not supposed to go around me. We get to the airport and I see he's looking for somebody and there's a woman standing there and she kind of like puts her hat on and she's like kind of like hiding.
I said why is she hiding. So I go up to her, I said Ma'am, you need a cab? She goes well to be honest with you I called Uber and that's my driver. I said that's your driver? She said yeah. I said well okay. And I went to go leave and she goes no, no don't leave. I want to take you. And I said why do you want to take me. She goes because he's driving like a bat out of hell, he's scaring me, he's acting funny. I'm scared.
I ended up taking that woman to Nyack, New York for $170. I mean it's not all instances with just Uber drivers but you need regulations. People need to be supervised. They need to be held accountable for their actions. And it -- it needs to be done immediately. College kids are telling me being picked up by Uber drivers and they reek of alcohol. They're not being supervised. Our office is right there in West Haven. We are supervised.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Thank you for your comments.
ELENA JOHNSON: And one more question about the $810 taxi lease real quick. Metro Taxi breaks the areas down into zones. We don't really do credit card work and cash work. We do medical transportation too for Logistic Care. If we do a methadone run where we bring someone from their home to the methadone clinic and back it's at a discounted rate but we get paid round trip. So if you bring someone from let's say Branford, Connecticut to New Haven to go to a methadone and get medicated and you bring them back, it's about $20 each way. That's $40.
So the bottom line is when you work for them -- and you get the big jobs. I mean not all the time. Little jobs -- little jobs add up. You get the jobs going to JFK you know $190 on the credit card. You get the jobs going to Newark, $200 on the credit card. You get vouchers from Tweed New Haven Airport. They pay you 125 when the flight's cancelled and it's a maintenance issue, 125 to Bradley, 175 to White Plains, 210 to LaGuardia, 225 to JFK, 275 to Newark Airport, New Jersey.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Elena. I've got to -- your three minutes are up about three minutes ago.
ELENA JOHNSON: Okay. Sorry.
REP. GUERRERA: No. Not a problem. Any comments? Thank you for your testimony and thank you for waiting.
ELENA JOHNSON: Okay.
REP. GUERRERA: Take care. Raza Syed. Raza Syed. I hope I'm saying that right. Paulo Braga.
PAULO BRAGA: Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Paulo Braga. I'm here to represent Greenwich Taxi. And I guess one of the issues that everyone has here today is in regard to this Uber invading our territory without having the right documentation that we do have to operate. And I see with my own eyes they're coming right in our base in Greenwich. They pick up customers. They -- obviously the customer request them to pick them up but they -- this is basically what's going on with us. And we would like to know why we needed certain -- when I applied to become a Greenwich Taxi I had to wait approximately two months to get my public service license, fingerprints, sexual offender, all this ordeal to become a public service.
And now what that the gentleman that was here, that young person that was representing Uber he was saying that he's very appreciative what Uber is doing which I understand that. And the reason is they can get into this business very, very easily if you have a decent car they can just apply. If they have decent records they can start operating in a matters of three weeks. And I think this is not fair for us what we pay for the base expenses and they -- and they get involved with into our territory. And I think this is unfair. And I think it's -- something has to be done.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Paulo. Is that it?
PAULO BRAGA: Pretty much.
REP. GUERRERA: Yeah. Thank you for your comments and we've heard numerous comments in the past in regards to the same situation that you have -- you have mentioned today. Any comments for Paulo? Thank you, Paulo. Thank you for waiting.
PAULA BRAGA: You're welcome. You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: Sean from Yellow Cab followed by Nicole. How are you, Sean?
SEAN LaCHAPELLE: I'm well. And yourself?
REP. GUERRERA: Good.
SEAN LaCHAPELLE: Good morning, Chairpersons Senator Leone, Representative Guerrera and members of the transportation committee. My name is Sean LaChapelle and I'm one of the managers of the Yellow Cab Company here in Hartford. I'm here to testify today in regards to PHB 649, AN ACT CONCERNING RIDESHARING COMPANIES AND DRIVERS. The Yellow Cab Company is Connecticut's oldest taxi company and holds the number one certificate dating back to 1898.
It was incorporated in 1921 and has been continually providing public transportation in the Hartford region for many years. The Yellow Cab Company currently has more than 40 office staff and 150 either part time or full time drivers. In the last three years the Yellow Cab Company has invested more than five million dollars into its infrastructure. This includes state of the art dispatching equipment, vehicle security cameras, rear seat payment devices and being an environmentally sensitive corporation has replaced 95 percent of its current fleet with clean burning natural gas vehicles thereby reducing pollution in Hartford and at Bradley International Airport and other transportation centers.
In August of 2014 we launched our mobile application that allows customers to request our taxi service via smartphone. With more than a 50 percent wheelchair accessible fleet we are capable to serve the special needs of any and all passengers. Recently so called rideshare companies, Uber, Life, Sidecar, et cetera, have entered the taxicab and livery business here in Connecticut.
Although they call themselves ridesharing companies they are functioning as taxicabs without being subject to any of the regulations, requirements, or oversight that is designed to protect the safety and security of the transported public. Ridesharing is when two or more people ride in the same vehicle to work or ball game and chip in or share expenses. What these app driven companies are doing is not ridesharing but simply offering for hire transportation service for a fee without governmental oversight and or regulation.
These so called rideshare companies utilize privately owned unmarked vehicles which are not certified by the DOT or DMV. These vehicles do not receive safety inspections. Their drivers are not subject to continuous medical and criminal background checks. They do not carry complete and extensive auto insurance coverage and their rates are not regulated by any current State of Connecticut agency. In fact they invoke unregulated surge pricing at will whereby the fare arbitrarily increases to the unsuspecting customer. Over the years the State of Connecticut has put in place a very elaborate set of regulations to protect the safety of the public that we transport in our taxicabs.
Three state agencies oversee our operations, the DOT, the DMV and Department of Consumer Protections. This oversight has been designed to assure that Connecticut consumers are safely transported. Very detailed rules and regulations have been put into place to protect passengers and seek the service that quality of the taxicabs provide. Our vehicles are -- and drivers and fares are strictly regulated for a reason. Vehicle certification and inspection, mandated insurance, driver background, clearly illuminated rooftop bill lights, specific vehicle color and identification markings, inspecting the sealed taxi meters are all but a few of the many protections which continue to be enforced to ensure and -- excuse me, reliability for hired transportation.
We are required to provide transportation on a 24 hour 365 schedule. All taxi companies must accept all requests and fares for transportation. For all of these reasons we call upon the committee to enact legislature requiring anyone offering public transportation for hire to the same stringent rules and requirements which are there to protect passenger safety and security. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Sean. Let me just say that on behalf of myself I know that Yellow Cab does a very good job. I know I've been to your --
SEAN LaCHAPELLE: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: -- place of employment numerous times and I commend all the good work that you guys do. I think you did hand in testimony correct?
SEAN LaCHAPELLE: Correct.
REP. GUERRERA: Yeah. Any comments for Sean? Thank you, Sean.
SEAN LaCHAPELLE: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Nicole.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Good afternoon, Chairman Guerrera and distinguished members of the transportation committee. My name is Nicole Benincasa. I lead policy for Uber Technologies here in Connecticut. I appreciate that the committee has taken an interest in transportation network companies or TNCs as you all know. You have an opportunity to join 23 other jurisdictions throughout the country and put into place a new and separate regulatory framework that works for these exciting and emerging technologies and creates a permanent home for TNCs in Connecticut. Each week in Connecticut Uber riders take tens of thousands of trips and thousands of driver partners use Uber as an opportunity to supplement their income through Uber apps.
Today you will -- you have heard from a few of our driver partners and you've also received testimony from Uber supporters who were unable to join us today including the mayors of West Hartford and New Britain, the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce and two of our riders, one who was -- one's able to use Uber to get a close friend home to avoid driving under the influence and one who uses Uber frequently on her campus at Yale because she feels even safer with Uber than ever before. I've shared with each of you a comprehensive regulatory framework specifically designed for Connecticut referencing Connecticut's current laws which should be used to create the separate regulatory structure. Today I will be testifying on that framework. The model rules insure the safety, reliability and cost effectiveness of TNC services within Connecticut.
Though they comprehensively address all safety and consumer protection concerns I will focus on three main issues today; driver screening processes, public safety provisions and insurance coverage as those are the most important elements of consumer protection. Uber's top priority is connecting riders to the safest rides on the road. That means always knowing a driver's information before getting into the car, knowing that every driver on the Uber platform is thoroughly screened, and knowing that every ride is insured.
TNCs must be required to conduct or have a third party conduct a rigorous background screening process before drivers are able to get on the road. Allowing accredited third parties to conduct the screening will ensure both accuracy and efficiency. This process should include a multi-state and multi-jurisdictional criminal background check utilizing a primary source search for validation, national sex offender registry database search and a driving history report review.
With regard to ensuring public safety all TNC partner vehicles on Connecticut roads must be in safe deriving condition. And in order for a rider to properly and safely identify a vehicle and driver upon pick up the TNC must display a picture of the driver and a license plate number of the vehicle before a passenger enters the vehicle. TNCs must adopt an antidiscrimination policy that prohibits drivers from discriminating on the basis of destination, race and other factors. And with regard to end to end insurance this should be provided so that riders are protected from the moment a driver is available to receive a ride request until the movement riders safely exit a vehicle.
If a TNC driver holds such insurance and for whatever reason his or her insurance fails to provide the required coverage the TNC must be required to provide coverage beginning with the first dollar of the claim. And finally I thank you for the opportunity to discuss how Uber should have a separate regulatory structure and how TNCs will be able to provide innovative -- innovative products here in Connecticut.
And we urge you to embrace this new option instead of placing prohibitive regulations on TNCs that will eliminate economic opportunities for drivers and a safe, convenient transportation option for Connecticut consumers. And with that I thank you for your time and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Nicole. Maybe -- help clarify a few issues that's come up today.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure.
REP. GUERRERA: The insurance piece.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Absolutely. And if -- if you please, Chairman, I also brought Brad Nail here who's our insurance policy manager. If I could have him join me and answer any insurance related questions I think that would be to everyone's benefit.
REP. GUERRERA: Sure.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Just state your name for the record in case we do ask a question.
BRAD NAIL: It's Brad Nail, insurance policy manager for Uber.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. All right. So walk me through this. So exactly we all understand here how this works.
BRAD NAIL: Sure.
REP. GUERRERA: All right. An Uber driver has the app. When does it go into effect?
BRAD NAIL: Well we have commercial coverage that will apply.
REP. GUERRERA: How much is you coverage?
BRAD NAIL: Is it okay if we speak in the terms of the phases or periods that we've spoken in earlier?
REP. GUERRERA: Sure.
BRAD NAIL: Okay. During what we referred to as phase two and phase three, so once the driver has agreed to provide a ride while the driver's on the way to pick that rider up, while they have the rider in the car until they drop the rider off we have a million dollars in commercial liability coverage that is expressly primary to any personal auto coverage that the driver may have. During the time that the driver has made him or herself availed to provide the ride but has not yet received or agreed to provide that ride so they're in that app on amiable period of time, we maintain a policy with split limits of 50-100-25.
So 51 -- $50,000 for bodily injury to any one person, $100,000 for bodily injury to all persons and $25,000 for property damage. That policy will respond in any and all situations where the driver's personal auto coverage has excluded it or has been cancel or has ceased to exist for any reason. If for any reason the driver's personal coverage does not respond then Uber's policy does.
REP. GUERRERA: I'm sorry. Go back, Brad. So you say it doesn't respond. What do you mean by that?
BRAD NAIL: Well I think the assertion was made earlier that no personal auto policy will any cover any of these time periods and that's not entirely correct for this reason. Every personal auto policy that I'm aware of has a livery exclusion but those livery exclusions are not standard language. So most of those livery exclusions only exclude while transporting someone for a fee. So during period three, arguably period two.
They may not exclude coverage in this first period. So the personal auto coverage may apply. In those instances where the insurance carrier has written that livery exclusion where it excludes this period one activity, so even making yourself available is an excluded activity. That's when our coverage is there -- is there to respond. And we -- our positon is that the -- the personal insurers are free to exclude whatever they want.
They can write their policy the way that they want to. We know that today there are a number of the large personal auto carriers on the market today are creating products to specifically cover this time period under their personal auto coverage so we -- what we would like to see in the legislation of the regulations is that flexibility to allow the insurance market to continue to develop at the same time that our technological market is developing.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay, Brad. Thank you for that. So bear with me here. So if there's an accident and you're telling me that for some reason the personal policy denies it. Correct. That your policy would kick in.
BRAD NAIL: Yes. The -- we're just talking about the first period right now?
REP. GUERRERA: Yeah.
BRAD NAIL: Okay. In the other two periods ours is expressly primary. There's no question.
REP. GUERRERA: Yes. But wouldn't -- so I would think that the insurance company would start pointing fingers though saying that we're not going to pick up this because you had your personal policy in place.
BRAD NAIL: It -- it doesn't -- it doesn't really work that way. I'll -- I think an analogy that I could use is if you rent a car for example then you have your own personal auto insurance that may cover you while you're in a rental car and you have the rental car insurance that's certainly in place. And when there is an accident there's not a lawsuit to determine whose coverage applies. The -- the two insurers just look at their policy language and the state law and they -- they work with each other to decide who covers the loss. Really the same thing's happening here with us.
There are two possible policies who can provide coverage. The terms of the policies dictate along with any state legislation or case law on the matter. And I can tell you that in all the rides that we are providing not just here in Connecticut but across the U.S. there has not been one single incident of a declaratory judgment action or any type of litigation over coverage on a claim. So it is working. The insurers look at their policies and they decide whether they have coverage and -- and -- and the -- the claims are getting handled and paid.
REP. GUERRERA: So there has been no deck action then you're saying.
BRAD NAIL: No, Sir. Certainly none with Uber and none that we're aware of with any of our competitors.
REP. GUERRERA: And do you see the -- I asked this question before to I think it was Eric who was up here speaking on behalf of the insurance industry. Are you seeing a market being carved out for Uber?
BRAD NAIL: We are.
REP. GUERRERA: You are.
BRAD NAIL: We are. The -- I think --
REP. GUERRERA: What companies?
BRAD NAIL: I think -- so far Farmer's has announced. GEICO has announced. USAA has announced. Erie, a company called MetroMile which is a mileage based insurer. And -- and we believe that there are a number of other of the large personal auto carriers that have products in development right now.
So I think it's going to continue to grow. I think what Eric said earlier is probably correct that in those states that have already addressed the issue through legislation or regulations there was more of an impetus to provide products there first so we saw filings in Colorado. We've seen filings in Illinois. But it hasn't been limited to those states. And -- and we certainly think that given the insurance market here in Connecticut I think we'll see a lot of activity as long as the legislation permits it.
If we write the legislation too restrictively, if we require Uber as the TNC to always provide primary coverage through a commercial policy from the time the app is on then we're destroying that developing personal auto market. And I don't think that's the direction that even the -- really I don't think that's the direction the insurers want to go either.
REP. GUERRERA: Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your testimony here today. Here's my question okay. I think once you pick up a passenger I don't think there's anybody that's nervous in that situation because that's -- you're clearly primary. It's a million dollars, same as what everybody on the road has. I've got a couple questions though with -- with -- the word was a fare -- not a free fare. What was it where pick up a rider?
It's a personal fare where say an Uber driver picks up a customer and the guy says listen I need you to take me back later on and I'll give you the same -- well I'll give you another -- you know I'll give you $20. It was $20 to get here. I'll give you $20 and he doesn't turn on his Uber app though. So he's an Uber driver that got this ride because of his Uber app. Drops the guy off and the guy says listen all right it was $20 to get here. I'll give you $20 or I'll give you 15 cash to take me back and -- but he doesn't hit Uber. So he gets -- you know there's a split of 80 percent I guess the rider -- driver gets and Uber gets 20.
Whatever the split is I don't care. But the guy gives him a cash discount for not turning on the Uber app. In that scenario who's responsible if there's an accident because he may have a personal policy exclusion -- assume that he has an exclusion for any livery services. So Uber app's not on and he's paying cash to ride back. What happens there?
BRAD NAIL: I think Nicole might want to speak to operationally how that scenario works and then I can come around and speak to the insurance piece.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Yeah. That would be great if we could. So just to the point of whether that's -- that's something that is -- that is possible to do, that is against Uber policy and it's cause for deactivation for the -- for the partner. So the partner would no longer you know able to make trips with Uber if they were doing that. That's soliciting a fare of course that's not -- not -- it's not Uber policy and it's also not you know legal in the -- in the general sense of the terms so.
REP. O'DEA: Yeah. And -- and I asked that question because I don't know if you remember I had to step away for a minute but I had years ago, no time recently but I was in law school. I paid a cabbie $20 to come back and pick me up and it was cash off the books so he didn't have to fare it. In that scenario presumably I'm in a yellow car, they're going to cover and the driver's probably going to get fired.
In a case where an Uber driver's involved in the same thing presumably you're not going to -- you're going to say listen, you didn't hit the Uber app so I'm not covering you. Then his own personal policy is going to say wait a minute we got a livery exclusion, assuming they did. Who in that scenario is covering that? Presumably nobody but I just wanted to offer that up as a scenario that I'm sure may happen sometime in the future.
BRAD NAIL: Yeah. Our insurance policy requires that the match be made through the -- through the system. Certainly this is not the only scenario where auto insurance is permitted to exclude that may result in uninsured scenarios. And it's -- and it's one that I think we just have to reinforce through our operational activities that the consequences of doing something like that.
REP. O'DEA: Okay. and then you know I was looking at the other scenario that I foresee as being a problem is the gap between -- I don't know if -- so phase one -- phase two and three as I understand it would be the time where there's a connection to go get the fare and then phase three would be when the passenger's in the car. Is that correct?
BRAD NAIL: Yes.
REP. O'DEA: Okay. So in phase two as he's going to pick up the fare, that is only the $50,000 policy and -- or was it the million?
BRAD NAIL: Its' the million.
REP. O'DEA: Okay. All right. So when he's got the Uber app on and driving around or having dinner or coffee but the Uber app is on, he's waiting for a fare. That's the $50,000 policy. Correct?
BRAD NAIL: Yes, Sir. Before there's been a match made with the rider.
REP. O'DEA: So if that person while looking for a fare gets in an accident that his personal policy doesn't cover then you will -- the Uber policy will cover up to $50,000.
BRAD NAIL: It's 50-100. So up to 100.
REP. O'DEA: Fifty, one hundred. Okay. So I guess the -- the issue would be then if he doesn't turn on the app there's no coverage and as long as he's not looking for coverage his personal policy should be in effect.
BRAD NAIL: That's right. That's right. And I think we designed the program specifically to eliminate any potential for a coverage gap. We know that his personal auto policy responds whenever the app is not on. We know that our commercial auto policy responds as primary once they've agreed to provide a ride. And it's that period one that's in between where we -- we do carry insurance to guarantee that there can be no coverage gap. If the personal auto carrier doesn't cover it we do. So we try to keep it as straightforward as possible in that respect.
REP. O'DEA: And so Senator McLachlan, I don't know if you heard his testimony. one of his examples was that if -- if -- if -- as part of an individual doing Uber his personal policy says as soon as you entered into contract with Uber to be a driver for them you've basically eliminated any coverage by us for any of your accidents because you voided the policy. I think that's kind of what he was getting at. Are you --
BRAD NAIL: I don't believe that that is correct.
REP. O'DEA: So is your -- my question to you is is it possible that somebody -- and granted I do some litigation involving coverage but not a lot on this -- in this arena. But are you aware of any case in the country whereby a person's personal policy because they were Uber driver has disclaimed coverage of any accident even in phase one?
BRAD NAIL: Has disclaimed coverage?
REP. O'DEA: Correct.
BRAD NAIL: I think there are many instances where the policy is written in such a way that it does in fact exclude coverage during that time period.
REP. O'DEA: So in phase one when they're Uber -- what's the -- what's the phase when the Uber app's not even on?
BRAD NAIL: We don't have a name for that one.
REP. O'DEA: So there's no coverage.
BRAD NAIL: Not -- not -- I mean they have their own personal auto policy.
REP. O'DEA: Right. Right. By my question is what if they haven't turned their app on but their own personal policy disclaims coverage.
BRAD NAIL: Okay. I think I see where you're going.
REP. O'DEA: Because they were -- they are an Uber driver.
BRAD NAIL: No.
REP. O'DEA: Are you aware of any litigation involving that scenario where they're not -- they haven't hit the button yet because -- to pick up a ride. They're thinking about it. They're doing it. They're distracted. They spill their coffee on themselves but the button hasn't been pushed because that's the time where you guys cover.
So they haven't pushed the button yet but the facts come out that they're about to or they're thinking about it and their own personal policy says nope, we're not covering you because you were in the act of or about to or doing work for livery and so we're not covering it.
BRAD NAIL: No, Sir. I'm not aware of any coverage declinations during that time period. I would say that the insurance -- depending on state law and the insurance regulations state by state they may have the right to nonrenew if they discover that that activity is going on. And -- and that's within the right of the insurers to do so. We believe that there's a sufficient market developing for TNC drivers that it's really -- in the long run that's not going to be a long run and the insurers can make the decision for themselves whether they want to -- to engage in an activity with TNC drivers.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you. I don't know if I lost anybody there but what I was trying to establish was I think you got me but I'm not sure anybody else in the room -- it was not a very artfully phrased question. But basically my concern that you've a got a refusal to cover before the actual app is hit. So that's my concern. And that's what I think Senator McLachlan was getting towards.
BRAD NAIL: Right. And we -- we have not seen that. And I don't think -- that's an underwriting question. And it's really an issue that can be resolved pretty easily through underwriting processes with the insurers. So there's a simple solution to that. Ask the question you know when you're underwriting the policy.
NICOLE BENINCASA: And if I could just add one more piece to that. based on our model regulation language that I provided to you, we do have a disclosure requirement that would require the TNC to disclose to any driver that their personal auto policy may not apply in that instance and just so that they know and so that they can do their due diligence and research and ensure that that's the case.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you very much for that. I will pass on to my -- thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for your testimony.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon. A couple questions. Since we're on insurance I want ask one or two questions on that. As we're trying to figure out -- I see most of the questions around phase one. Phase two and three are fairly certain. But on the tail side we had a previous speaker for Uber and I asked a question. You've already dropped off the passenger, the app is still on and they need to drive from that location home and an accident occurs. Does Uber cover that even though there's no passenger in there?
BRAD NAIL: Yes, Sir. They -- if -- if the app is on and the driver -- essentially the driver has made himself available then our -- our policy during that period one does apply.
SENATOR LEONE: But it's after they've already dropped the person off so it's almost like a phase four. It's another --
BRAD NAIL: Well it's circular. It sort of goes back to phase one again.
SENATOR LEONE: So it goes back to phase one again?
BRAD NAIL: Yeah.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. Good. That's a good thing. But you also mentioned that that phase one that there's other insurance companies now starting to -- starting to take advantage of offering some services. And I guess one of the questions we were trying to mull over is if there were to be some finger -- if an accident were to occur during phase one why wouldn't the insurance company say the other insurance company should pay for it and not us because it's about you know outlaying some cash for an accident. And you're saying -- well I don't know what you're saying. So give me your response to that.
BRAD NAIL: I would just say that the policy language dictates and -- and you can't as a responsible insurer you can't avoid your obligations when you've written a policy to cover that activity. So if they've written the policy and market it to TNC drivers to cover that activity then they're going to cover that activity.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. Now when you hire people do you mandate that these new hires have a certain amount of coverage so that these type of scenarios aren't likely to flare up?
BRAD NAIL: We -- we require that they have valid and current insurance coverage based on whatever the state laws require. So we don't ask for anything special above and beyond what your -- what your state requirements are. We don't -- we don't require that they have TNC specific insurance because we know that we have insurance in the background to respond.
SENATOR LEONE: So if they -- if a new hire has their current insurance under state law but it does not cover TNCs and they have an accident during phase one you're saying Uber will cover that accident.
BRAD NAIL: Yes, Sir. I'm hesitant to call them new hires because they're independent contractors but yes we do have the insurance there.
SENATOR LEONE: New employees -- yes, new ICs. I get it. Okay. Thank you for that. Let me switch to another thing. A few things, previously some of the complaints have been that multiple passengers were being put into these vehicles, couldn't identify who they were. Has that ever happened under Uber?
NICOLE BENINCASA: So not to my knowledge. And I would love to -- to address that.
SENATOR LEONE: Sure.
NICOLE BENINCASA: That claim. So with Uber there are basically usually two options available. Right now in Connecticut, we've been here for about a year we have the Uber X option that seats up to four passengers for our ridesharing service. So there is a strict up to four passenger policy on that. And drivers are of course when they -- when they go through the onboarding process told and urged to abide by all laws of the state with which they're working and that includes not seating up to -- more than four passengers in their vehicle. We also -- not yet in Connecticut but hopefully soon will roll out our higher occupancy option, Uber XL. That simply just seats up to six passengers. And again it's against policy to put any more passengers in that in the vehicle.
SENATOR LEONE: Great. But just for argument purposes if a -- if an IC, an independent contractor were foolish enough to allow five instead of the four would Uber cover an accident if it occurred?
BRAD NAIL: Yes, Sir. The -- there's nothing in the insurance --
SENATOR LEONE: I guess it's closing time. Hopefully we'll get those lights back on but continue.
BRAD NAIL: Nothing in the insurance policy that's impacted by number of occupants in the vehicle or -- or there is correlation to the number of seatbelts.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay. And -- and if at some point down the road we were to require signage on the vehicles is Uber open up to that?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. SO you'll see in the -- in the --
A VOICE: I'm not sure we can see.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Well you can't -- you cannot see now. I think we've outworn our welcome here. But you'll see -- you'll see in the -- in the model regulations that I've provided to you and it's actually been referenced may times today how drivers and riders can identify one another when they -- when they make a -- a pick up. So within the app you receive the driver's photograph and the license plate number. You also receive many other elements to identify a vehicle including the vehicle's make and model. We think that that is absolutely sufficient for safety purposes for riders to be able to identify the correct driver and get into the correct vehicle.
If for whatever reason it were to be determined that some sort of trade dress is required we would certainly be open to discussing that and seeing what that means. But I think something that we talked about I think at length in the informational hearing last month on this and not so much today is that one very important element of providing an appropriate regulatory structure for TNCs is that these drivers are independent -- not only independent contractors but they're also using Uber part time as a way to supplement their income and any way that a TNC can afford them the opportunity to do so in the most convenient and efficient way possible would be best.
So if there is some sort of trade dress requirement we have identifying -- ways to identify vehicles as I know was mentioned earlier in New York. You know there's a -- there's a piece of paper that says Uber. We have glowing Uber Us that we often use to identify vehicles as well. I think something like that that is provided to drivers that they can then remove easily when they're using their vehicles for personal use may be appropriate. And we'd be happy to discuss that.
SENATOR LEONE: Yeah I'm thinking old school like a magnet on the side of the door.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Something that they can remove right because it's their personal vehicle and they don't always --
SENATOR LEONE: Yes. Correct. Exactly. But as long as you're open to that that's a good thing. And then final question, I'll move it along to other members. Your pricing structure. How do you determine a fair price and you know I've been told that you know on maybe certain occasions there's been surge pricing that may be excessive? So I just wanted to understand how you price during a normal day and then maybe say when demand is high say on a -- on a -- on a holiday when you know maybe a lot of people need the service and I don't know if you're able to meet the demand. So I'm just curious how do you -- how you structure that.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. Sure. And I can speak directly to the pricing structure that we have here in Connecticut. I just want to pull up the numbers. I acutely have them. so the way Uber's pricing structure works generally and really at all times is we have a very clear fare structure that's not only displayed within the app but also on our website. We allow riders to estimate their fare within the app if they would like to place their destination -- type their destination into the app they can see how much a ride will cost.
We're very transparent about pricing and the way the fare structure works is there's a base fare as there -- as there normally is and then there's a time and distance fare along with that to basically reflect the -- the route as -- as we see it on the GPS technology that kind of works off of the driver's app. So we talk about you know a driver hitting the app on and showing their available for insurance purposes. That's also how they -- they start and end a trip.
They'll just tap a button on their app and when the rider's in the car and they get along their way that's when a trip starts and that's when the fare begins and then when they get to their destination the GPS kind of stops tracking that trip and -- and the -- the fare is complete. So for riders not only can they see this information before they take a trip but right when they finish a trip they receive an electronic receipt in their -- in their email inbox that displays the trip map. It shows the route that was taken. It has the driver's information.
It has the fare breakdown. If they go over a toll road or anything along those lines that fare is also included in there and it's shown on the -- on the receipt. If a rider has an issue with a -- with a certain fare they can always write into our customer support and that will be addressed within minutes usually, sometimes within a few hours. Now to talk more about our dynamic pricing model we have a policy in place that allows for demand and supply to reach one other when there are high level demands in certain areas of the areas where Uber operates.
So say a lot of riders at a certain time are trying to get -- make an Uber trip they -- a lot of people have the app open and there aren't enough drivers in the area to reach that demand. In order to incentivize drivers to get to that area and make those trips and get rides for people when they need them we have this dynamic pricing model. So fares will fluctuate. They may increase just the amount that is necessary for enough riders to match -- or enough drivers to match that demand in that area.
The breakdown which we've discussed earlier today of Uber taking a 20 percent fee from the compensation doesn't change at this time. The driver still makes 80 percent of their fare. So they are just basically benefitting from the high demand and are incentivized to get to the areas that need it most. So that's basically how the dynamic pricing model works. And I'm happy to answer any other questions you might have on it.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. I'll let other folks follow up on that but final question since this is mostly app driven what kind of device are the drivers using? I understand most people either the Samsungs or iPhones or whatever to hail Uber but you know in Connecticut we discourage driving and texting and so forth so I'm just curious how Uber drivers manage their -- the flow of business if you will and getting from destination A to B using the map service and so forth.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Yes. Absolutely. So to answer your first question drivers are often provided a smartphone if they do not already have one for their own use, where they will only be able to use the -- the driver app on there. They also have the ability to download the driver app on their own phone. And -- and not have to have an extra device in the vehicle to -- to work off of. So for that question related to kind of driver distraction and -- and safe driving each element of the trip basically occurs with one tap. So driver taps on, it shows that he's online and available to make a trip.
When he receives a ride request he just gets a big alert on his -- on his smartphone that shows him that's he's getting a ride request and he's able to tap to accept it. If he needs to contact a rider he's able to do so within the app by calling or texting but when drivers are on boarded and of course throughout the entire process that they are partnered with Uber they are urged like I mentioned before to follow the rules of the road. They should not using a phone, talking on a phone if they are -- if they are not able to do so. They should not be texting while driving if they are not supposed to. They are -- they are urged to only do so when the vehicle is not in motion.
So -- so that's again something that we also receive -- will receive feedback from riders on. We haven't really talked much about this but with regard to customer satisfaction which I know was a point made earlier this morning by our DOT Commissioner we certainly have what I would venture to say is the best customer response feedback loop on the market. We have -- riders are able to basically give feedback on any element of a trip that they need to within the app, from their receipt. And -- and receive a response within minutes from our support team. So if they have a concern about a driver using a device unsafely they will let us know and -- and we will -- we will alert the driver and speak with them about it.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. So if -- if a driver needs to pick someone up in New Haven then drive to Bridgeport and they don't know the best route are they using say an Uber map service where it's directing them street by street or they downloading different apps whether it's google or some other map device software?
NICOLE BENINCASA: The driver app has navigation built in to the app so when they start a trip they can just tap navigate and then they can go on their way.
SENATOR LEONE: So it's a -- it's an Uber map application. So it's within your current app?
NICOLE BENINCASA: That's correct. It's integrated into the app.
SENATOR LEONE: And it's voice controlled or voice activated so they don't have to touch the screen as they're driving?
NICOLE BENINCASA: That's correct.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Representative Wilms.
REP. WILMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Nicole, for your testimony. I'd like to switch the topic to -- to something else that's come up quite a bit today and that's in the area of background checks. I'm looking at the chart that you have that's on your handout of supplemental notes on model legislation. And it's page 18. And you talk about the -- the background checks that you do versus the -- I guess the FBI Live Scan.
And I was wondering if you could comment on that because some of the testimony this morning from folks who were not fond of you were suggesting that perhaps your background checks aren't as good as the -- as the other folks background checks or they're even questioning whether you did any. And so I was wondering could you assess your background checks versus the -- you know what the -- what the -- the yellow cab industry's doing.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Absolutely. So you can see in the document that we've provided but I'll just describe for everyone for everyone's benefit here as well. The background check process that -- that we use is through an accredited third party who's been accredited for background check screening in the U.S.
REP. WILMS: Could I ask for the name of that entity?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. So it -- it may vary but here in -- in Connecticut we use Hirease.
REP. WILMS: Hirease.
NICOLE BENINCASA: That's correct.
REP. WILMS: Okay.
NICOLE BENINCASA: And it's a multi tiered background check process that includes multi state and multi jurisdictions so we look at local, state and federal records. So in comparison to the FBI Live Scan fingerprinting method that's traditionally used we look at county courthouse records, federal court database and the multi state criminal database which are areas that are not specifically touched on by the FBI Live Scan process. The -- the Live Scan process mostly just focuses specifically on items that are updated only as regularly as the arresting officers provide that information to the -- the federal database.
And that could -- it varies by jurisdiction but that could happen in anywhere between you know that day or six months from now. With the -- with the background check process that we use everything is -- is current to the point where members of our -- our third party background check provider will go straight to the source to ensure that something is accurate. They'll go to the county courthouse and check the records to make sure that if there were an amendment to a violation or if a violation or if there were any changes they would -- they would ensure that they can see. That's not necessarily the case with the FBI record database for background checks.
And we've actually seen and you'll see in the -- in the information that I've provided to you that a lot of times there are flaws with the -- the FBI Live Scan process that do not account for those pending charges or changed charges as well. So I think the most important -- there are two really important elements of -- of the kind of the way our background checks are just as thorough if not -- if not through than -- than what we see with -- with FBI and fingerprinting but there's a -- there's a social security trace involved that will not only look at the -- the places where a person has -- has lived and been a resident in the last seven years but they will also look at -- they'll use a social security trace to check if their name pops up anywhere thought out the nation for -- for those violations.
And in addition to that it's -- it's just a much more efficient process. It takes much less time to go through this process but that in no means -- in no way means that it's less thorough. It is just a -- you know it's an electronic process that then will go to the source if need be. And usually takes you know anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks to complete and kind of in comparison to the FBI fingerprinting process which could take anywhere from 12 to 14 weeks.
REP. WILMS: Okay. So it's your assertion then the process that you go through, through these -- through these private entity Hirease here in Connecticut and then these different levels of search that you do, it's your position that that's superior to the -- the FBI Live Scan method.
NICOLE BENINCASA: I would say that I don't want to use the word superior because I haven't audited the --
REP. WILMS: More comprehensive. I don't know.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. Sure. It's very comprehensive. I would say that it is extremely accurate and we've -- we've actually done testing in the past I think -- I believe in Boston we -- we took a group of taxi drivers who had gone through the -- the traditional FBI fingerprinting process and put them through the third party process that we use and ten percent of them failed the -- the process when -- when going through our background checks. That -- and they had already passed the FBI fingerprinting process. So I think there are -- there are probably accuracies and in accuracies in both. Nothing is perfect. You know things could slip through the cracks.
But I think that we are absolutely comprehensive. We look at the national sex offender registry database and we -- we ensure that everything is not only as thorough as possible but that we're improving it every day. We are currently going through an audit of our background check process and think the results of that are actually going to come out very soon, in the coming days. And you would be happy to know that it's -- it's a very thorough process and I'll be happy to share that -- the results with you when we get them.
REP. WILMS: To your knowledge is there anything in the FBI Live Scan search that reveals information that -- that's not revealed in the search that you do?
NICOLE BENINCASA: to my knowledge no. Again I think we -- you'll see in the -- in the chart that shared with you we hit on seven different searches that are not even utilized under the FBI Live Scan process. So I would say that we're -- we're digging as deep as possible to be able to ensure that you know we're seeing everything that could come up in someone's background check not only criminal records but also their driving history records as well.
REP. WILMS: And one last question. Would you be -- is there any reason why you don't just include FBI Live Scan in the many data searches that you already do?
NICOLE BENINCASA: The reason being most importantly I think is that we just -- the process that we use is -- is seen to be just as thorough or comprehensive. So there's -- you know the -- the issue with -- with fingerprinting that -- that often comes about is there are many crimes that don't involve fingerprint when -- when someone is taken in. and we think that social security trace that ensures that we are not only looking into the right databases but also ensuring that we are looking not only where someone has lived, where they -- where they -- where they may have committed a crime across the nation is important.
And I can't say beyond that why we do not include FBI Live Scan but we do think that it's a much more efficient process to not go through that 12 to 14 week lag and be able to get drivers on the road especially when they're -- they're doing this you know as an opportunity to supplement their income and potentially you know work a few hours or for a month or so here and there when they're in between jobs or a student.
REP. WILMS: Another question. After you've -- you've hired the independent contractor and they've passed all these -- these tests and they've been associated with you for a period time do you do a -- a refresher round of background checks?
NICOLE BENINCASA: So if there is -- by market we -- we definitely have you know seen the -- the necessity for that. And I think you know in -- in Connecticut we haven't hit our one year anniversary yet. So I think if we -- if that were to be found necessary we'd be open to discussing how frequently that that would need to occur or how it works you know in other -- in other for hire markets but we just haven't reached that point yet and I think you know something we can -- we can have in this discussion on regulating the industry.
REP. WILMS: Well that's -- that's all my questions. Thanks, Nicole.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you.
REP. WILMS: And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Representative Arce followed by Representative Simanksi.
REP. ARCE: I just got --
REP. GUERRERA: We've got a whole slew of individuals that --
REP. ARCE: All right. Nicole, I just got just a couple of quick questions and then maybe the insurance person could also answer this for me. The employee of Uber, are they required not only to have insurance but is it full coverage or just liability?
BRAD NAIL: It's -- so you're talking about the -- the drivers who sign up and partner.
REP. ARCE: Personal -- it's personal insurance.
BRAD NAIL: They are -- they're not required to have anything other than what the state mandates. So here in Connecticut they're required to have I think it's 20-40-10 coverage. They're required to have UM coverage but everything else is optional. And -- and we don't impose any requirements on them on their personal policy above what the state.
REP. ARCE: Okay. My next question. I applied on the net to become an Uber driver. How do you -- how do Uber verifies that my car is legally registered and is insured as requested by Uber.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. So during the onboarding process drivers are -- are required to submit documents to Uber to ensure that their vehicles are registered and the registration is current, that they hold personal insurance coverage and that that coverage is current, that they have a proper Connecticut State driver's license so that they can actually legally make trips on the road.
And those documents are -- are -- are held on Uber's system as part of the partner's account. So the documents as they -- as you know a partner goes through their -- their time with Uber if any of those documents were to expire or come close to expiring at any time we would know that and we would notify the driver that they need to reup you know their registration or personal insurance or whatever it is so that they are always current with Uber.
REP. ARCE: And these documents are --are they faxed, mailed to you or emailed?
NICOLE BENINCASA: It's a combination of things. The drivers could come in person and -- and provide the documents to us and in that case we would scan them and keep them on file. And I think to -- to whether they could be faxed or mailed I don't want to speak out of -- out of turn because I -- I don't know for sure but I'm assuming that would be possible as well. And I can certainly follow up with you on that.
REP. ARCE: So you do have a Uber office in Connecticut?
NICOLE BENINCASA: We have an Uber office in New York that -- where our Connecticut are run out of. But we do have -- we do remote onboardings very frequently. We have an operations team that is specifically dedicated to Connecticut and they come to Connecticut once or twice or three times or four times, however many times a week it's necessary. And they do onboardings with drivers in person. And they also do driver support during that time as well.
REP. ARCE: Okay. Thank you.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you.
REP. ARCE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REP. GUERRERA: Representative Simanski.
REP. SIMANSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. For the past 43 years I worked in the insurance claim department so maybe I can bring a little clarity around some of these insurance issues. First of all the thing to keep in mind is an insurance policy is a contract. It's an insurance contract enforceable in a court of law. So the black and white language in a policy is -- applies. When it comes to the livery exclusion okay, it's only excluded if it's specific policy language says that it's excluded. So if we're talking about transportation of people or property for profit it's only during that transportation that you can in fact exclude coverage. That's just basic contract interpretation.
But even another part of the policy we must be aware of every policy has another insurance clause that specifically states if this policy applies or this one applies. It says exactly whose policy is going to be a primary, whose policy is going to be secondary and if in fact they're both deemed to be primary then they can either share that risk by equal shares or by pro rata which says your policy limits are higher than mine therefore you pay more than I do. That's all spelled out in clear unequivocal policy language in every policy. That's it.
REP. GUERRERA: And you couldn't state that before? Representative Steinberg.
REP. STEINBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Following up on Representative Arce's question. Do you -- you collect the important documentation as it relates to that. Do you also verify it?
NICOLE BENINCASA: I'm sure that we do. But unfortunately I -- I don't work on the operations side but I will -- I will get a clear understanding of how that process works and be certain to follow up with you. But we -- we obtain the information and I think the most important thing is that we have multiple identifying elements when it comes to drivers so we -- you know we have their social security number, we have their home address and their -- on their driver's license we have their -- so we can you know at least cross reference that to ensure that it is under the appropriate name and the appropriate partner. And we also have a photo ID of them with their driver's license and of course obtain a photo of the partner that we use within the app for identifying purposes as well.
REP. STEINBERG: Well perhaps I should be asking my colleague this but let's say in the case there was an accident and the rider and the passenger was injured and it turns out that the driver had misrepresented his insurance coverage. Who would be liable in that instance?
BRAD NAIL: Our -- if it's in the course of a paid ride our insurance policy will still respond in that situation. There is nothing -- there's no element, there's no exclusion or condition in the policy that would -- that would exclude coverage for that situation.
REP. STEINBERG: So basically the passenger would be protected under either circumstance?
BRAD NAIL: Yes, Sir.
REP. STEINBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Representative Scanlon.
REP. SCANLON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome back, Nicole.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you.
REP. SCANLON: Thank you for your patience today. A follow up to when you were here in February. We had asked about the taxes and whether Uber had paid taxes. You said you'd follow up with us. Do you have an answer today about what that is?
NICOLE BENINCASA: I do.
REP. SCANLON: Okay.
NICOLE BENINCASA: I do. Thank you for -- for checking me on that. We -- we are obviously in tax season right now so just to give you an update for -- for the purposes of taxing generally as you all know 80 percent of -- of the profits made during TNC activity goes to a partner. So these partners are independent contractors. They fill out 1099Ks that are provided to them to pay taxes on that revenue source that they -- that they make. And for your knowledge just for Uber's purposes, Uber and our subsidiary who holds our insurance policy are both registered in Connecticut so we are going through the process of -- of working through the tax documentation on those entities in Connecticut. Last year we launched as you may recall in April 2014 so we're working on 2014's taxes now.
REP. SCANLON: Thank you. Just a few quick other questions. So on your proposal here I don't remember what page it's on so I'm sorry but you talk about how you guys are essentially okay with having the driver go through the application on your website and then they have to go get a permit from DOT. And I think the Commissioner had said earlier during his testimony that he was okay with that kind of happening. But in that proposal -- of your proposal you say something about how the driver would have to then pay $5,000.
NICOLE BENINCASA: So just to clarify, the -- the TNC permit that we are proposing would be necessary for operation in this State would be for the transportation network company itself and not per driver. So the fee associated with that would -- would go to the transportation network company operating in this State and it wouldn't be a per driver fee.
REP. SCANLON: Isn't per driver. Okay. And then just back one last time to the background checks because I know that's come up a little bit in here.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure.
REP. SCANLON: And I just want to be clear, you and I had talked about this last time you were here. When you go back to -- to sort of rescan somebody which you said you don't know if you do. You'd only been here for a year so you haven't rescanned anybody here. But when I asked the Commissioner earlier today when a bus driver for example gets pulled over for road rage in their personal car that DOT finds out about that and then subsequently figures out how to deal with that employee depending on the severity of the incident.
Right now as it stands in Connecticut if one of your drivers did get arrested for sexual assault, road rage, any of those things you wouldn't know about that so until you decide whether you're going to do a second sort of loop back and follow up how do you think that people should have confidence knowing that that person still isn't on the road picking people up every day in Connecticut.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. Sure. That's fair. So and I will say you know currently as it stands we have a -- we have two kind of different policies that -- that work toward that same goal. You know we have a policy for -- for self reporting if there are any incidents met in that nature and we also have of course the feedback process that -- that we use through the app with both riders and drivers who are able to you know put basically any concern that they may have about a trip or about a driver into that feedback that is strictly monitored. And I think that's -- that's the kind of number one important point that -- that we have not only for serious incidents but also for you know minor concerns as well. But you know to your point I'm happy to discuss our -- the background check process and regulatory that we have.
REP. SCANLON: Okay. Thank you. And the last question for you. Senator Linares and a couple other people have brought out how Uber is awesome for anti drunk driving efforts and I totally agree aimed at my generation and it helps a lot of people that are my friends get home safely. But again what -- what protection I think my colleague, Representative Wilms may be getting at this a little bit. Your -- your drivers don't necessarily have supervisors in the way that a bus driver does or a cab company driver does or anybody else who's out in the world. And so yeah sure a driver, a rider could rate you know after the ride that you know they could give them a low rating because they thought that the driver smelled like alcohol.
But there's no one checking that that driver doesn't go and go to a bar and then leave and then drink other than the fact that you guys frown upon that as a society. But there's nothing to check against that. So I'm just wondering what -- what -- what you think about that because you're saying that your company is an anti drunk driving you know sort of you know incentive or it's an anti drunk driving campaign essentially. But how do you prevent your own drivers from -- from doing the same thing?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. So just to touch on your point, you used the word -- the phrase frown upon. We actually have a zero tolerance drug and alcohol use policy. So if that were to happen it would not just be frowned upon. The driver would not be able to work -- make trips with Uber any longer in that situation. That's a very strict policy. And I think that one very important factor of kind of the culture that we create with -- with Uber riders is that they feel comfortable providing that sort of feedback and they know that it's going to be addressed. So they would do so.
I think more importantly than -- than anything else you know this -- this product is absolutely having an impact on state's such as Connecticut in -- in allowing for riders to have a safe ride home from anywhere. You know as you may know we recently announced a partnership with Mohegan Sun for the main purpose of that very thing, making sure that people get to and from the casino and the event space safely. And of course we -- we take our partner activities even more seriously than -- than anything else and that would be a strict violation of partnering with Uber if they were to be driving while intoxicated and I can tell you in my experience and I -- I you know see this day in and day out. I can say that you know that's something that we -- that we've frequently or if ever see.
REP. SCANLON: No I understand that but I'm just saying you have a zero tolerance policy against something but I'm asking you how do you ever regulate that because if you don't know -- if I'm a driver and I got a DUI you wouldn't know about that. And if I smelled like alcohol perhaps somebody could give me a low rating but how do you guys find out about a drunk driver to fire them if you don't have any oversight over them on a daily basis is what I'm asking?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. I mean I think that's -- again that kind of goes to the point of checking for maybe regularity in the -- in the screening process and background checks.
REP. SCANLON: All right. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Any other comments? Well Nicole, can you just share with us though where -- where are you in the State of Connecticut right now in regard to Uber?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. So currently are operating in New Haven, Hartford, New London is a -- is an area that we are now touching as well. And we're basically expanding every day. So when we say you know the -- the counties that we currently have coverage in it's -- it's what we -- what we are comfortable saying we have reliable coverage in. so that means you know drivers can -- as you've heard many times today drivers can make trips in any area of the State. And they certainly do so. They -- they -- they provide service to not only the larger metropolises in Connecticut but they are also able to touch on any of the -- the more traditionally underserved areas in the communities that -- that may ned it most.
REP. GUERRERA: I thought I read that -- are you at Mohegan or Foxwoods now too?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Yes. We -- we just announced a partnership with Mohegan Sun. And we are -- we are providing rides to and from the casino for casino goers and event attendees to help combat drunk driving and -- and promote not only service in that area but also as I learned earlier today offer other supplemental job opportunities for employees of the casino who may be able to work part time for Uber as -- as driver partners as well. That's part of our partnership package.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Any other comments? Representative Carney.
REP. CARNEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Hi. How are you? Thank you for coming. I was just -- to go along with what the Chairman was talking about. So you said you were only in regions. So I mean I'm in Middlesex County. I currently can't get an Uber ride? Is that -- I'm just a little confused.
NICOLE BENINCASA: No. So it works a little bit differently. So -- so basically what you would be able to do anywhere in the State if you were looking for an Uber ride is just to open up the app and if there were vehicles available in that area which there can be and -- and in the areas where we currently -- you know as I mentioned currently operate very reliably but could be anywhere in the State. Those vehicles would show up on your app and you'd be able to make a ride request. The way Uber kind of works is we are -- you know we provide services in a prearranged way but it's all very much on demand.
When you want to go somewhere you pick up your app, you know where you want to go you can request a ride and we like to keep it as efficient as possible for riders so we have ETA based basically dispatch systems that would not allow you to see a vehicle that's basically out of that area, that's not going to provide you efficient service. So if you open up the app at your home and there's not a car available it's because there's not a car available in enough of an efficient timeframe in order to pick you up.
But again drivers are able to go wherever they like. They make their own hours. They make trips where they -- where they please so that we're providing service to as many areas as possible.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. So when you say you made a partnership with the casino how did that -- did -- did you make sort of any monetary arrangement with -- with the tribes or?
NICOLE BENINCASA: So I don't believe so. So we -- our partnership basically involves free rides for -- for new Uber users and they if they're at the casino or -- or going to the casino and they take advantage of that ride then you know it's just a mutually beneficial partnership for -- for both Mohegan and for Uber. But there was no monetary value attached to that.
REP. CARNEY: Just one last question because I'm really not that familiar with Uber. So how quickly does the rider know what the ride will cost?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure. So they could know instantaneously in the app if they do a fare estimate. So the way it works basically a rider pinpoints their location for pick up when they're ready to make a ride request. If they would like to know how much the fare may cost they can do so in two ways. They can basically -- and I'm happy to show this to you in person so you can see how it works. But they can basically just tap the option on the app that they're -- that they're using. So with Uber X which is the topic of conversation today with ridesharing they would just tap that option and they'd get the fare structure on the screen within the app.
If they wanted to know exactly how much it might cost they can do a fare estimate by typing in their destination in the app. And then they'll get that estimate for that time of day from point A to point B.
REP. CARNEY: Can you lock in that estimate?
NICOLE BENINCASA: So in the sense that it's a like a binding estimate. So it's still an estimate because for many reasons. So you know if a rider wants to make several stops that's not something we can indicate within the app. Depending on you know what -- the route that's taken or the route that's chosen by the rider or the driver it's not a -- it's not a locked in quote. But if for whatever reason they think that the fare was too high or that there was a bad route taken or anything along those lines they do get that immediate receipt within their email and that's what shows a map with the route so that they can you know kind of assure themselves that yes this didn't seem quite right.
Let me see maybe if I can -- if I can improve that fare. They can write in to Uber and say this doesn't look right. Can you please review for me and they may get part of the fare, full refund on the -- on the fare depending on whether or not the route taken was correct and the estimate was accurate.
REP. CARNEY: Okay. And one of the -- one of the things I've seen I know was sort of a little bit controversial in New York City was that -- this many have been asked already but where Uber was charging people higher rates if you say you needed a ride on New Year's Eve. Do they do that -- do you do that with Uber X in Connecticut?
NICOLE BENINCASA: So we -- we do use dynamic pricing. It's the model that we use across the board with -- with our products. We did touch on this briefly earlier so I don't want to exhaust that -- that entire description of how it works but I think the -- the main point specific to your question is the element of transparency that we have when we use dynamic pricing. It's purely a model that incentivizes drivers to to get to areas of high demand so that riders can make -- can get rides when they need them. The way it works for a rider is they see within the app basically a little icon that indicates that this pricing isn't in process at that time.
And then not only that but when they try to request a ride a screen pops up on the app that shows them how much the fare has increased at that time. They are able to accept that increase or they can be notified when the surge pricing period ends which I do frequently. You'll get a push notification or a text message to alert you that prices have dropped down, demand's back to normal or you can just choose not to take a ride at that time.
If you do choose to take the ride depending on how high the fares are increased you also need to type in the amount that they are increased by. You can also do a fare estimate as we just discussed within the app at that time and it would take into consideration that additional fare. So you are you know fully aware of -- of what price you're paying fi you -- if you go through that process and you -- and you continue to request a ride. Another point that I would like to note is this is something that happens extremely rarely. I think less than ten percent of trips globally actually experience a higher than normal price range fare.
And it is also something that you know we've worked through with regulators in the past with the Attorney General in New York as yon mentioned. Attorney General you determined that this is an appropriate policy to use during every day you know normal fluctuations of supply and demand and that even in states of emergency it's still an appropriate mechanism use but in that case we've entered into an agreement with him that we use nationwide now where prices won't go too high so that in states of emergency you know something of that sort of shock in -- in pricing it won't happen.
REP. CARNEY: All right. Thank you very much for that.
NICOLE BENINCASA: You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Senator -- I'm sorry, Representative McLachlan.
REP. MacLACHLAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Excuse me. Thank you both for -- for joining us and being so helpful with the information you've provided. As you understand we -- we all answer to constituents who put us here. And so we -- our job is to ask tough questions. I represent three towns in the lower Connecticut River Valley; Westbrook, Clinton and Killingworth. We have wonderful tourist attractions.
We're always looking to -- I actually currently have a bill in the commerce committee that would just help increase the marketability of -- of our tourist attractions. So a twofold question. What can Uber do for the towns of Westbrook, Clinton and Killingworth to increase the connectivity of tourist attractions? And also you know what it can it do for -- for the -- just the average family? I was sent here to -- to -- to advocate on 24,000 people's behalf and I just would like to -- to know what can you do for people who are living in the suburbs? What -- how will this business improve their lives and make them safer?
NICOLE BENINCASA: Absolutely. Thank you for your questions and I'm happy to address your -- your constituents concerns. So I think first and foremost what can we do for the areas in your district, first I would like for us to improve our service in those areas and we're doing that every single day. We're working towards that. we're onboarding new partners, providing more economic opportunities for not only you know members of the traditional industry but also probably many of your constituents and hopefully more in the near future who are able to use Uber as an opportunity to supplement their income and provide for their families.
So that kind of goes to your second question as well but I think even more importantly making sure that we -- that we have drivers who are able to serve all areas of Connecticut and do so nondiscriminatorily I think is very important and that's you know kind of the first step in ensuring that we are able to serve those areas. So I think you know ensuring that there are regulations on the books that are not too prohibitive for these people to be able to provide these part time services using their own personal vehicles and being able to get to these areas that are traditionally either underserved by taxi or other services or just there's no public transit or if you know neither of those two issues are a problem and people use their own vehicles day in and day out providing them an opportunity to use Uber when they, you know otherwise would be motivated to do something unsafe like drink and drive.
I think we could not only improve the community in -- in the sense that we would provide economic opportunity in the form of partnerships with Uber as drivers potentially economic opportunity in the form of jobs with Uber as Uber employees and also just to benefiting the community generally by providing better, more efficient and safe service, clean rides with -- with -- with high quality vehicles and high quality drivers providing a more than ever a better option for them when they may need it.
REP. MacLACHLAN: Thank you so much.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you.
REP. MacLACHLAN: We were -- I was sitting up here to solve problems and so I -- I'm sure that we can come to a happy medium and agreement and get our roads safer and -- and help the tourism industry in my neck of the woods boom. So thanks so much.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. One last line of questioning real quick. Since Uber's here and you have coverage just out of curiosity how many drivers do you have available in the State?
NICOLE BENINCASA: So we'll be happy to say that we have thousands of drivers here in Connecticut now. We've -- I think last time I was here last month I used hundreds as my indicator and now I can say thousands. So -- so we're improving that -- those numbers every day and providing more opportunities.
SENATOR LEONE: So do you have a -- a general ballpark figure of when you -- you're not going to continue to hire drivers, that you have enough coverage or is it as demand dictates?
NICOLE BENINCASA: So that's not really kind of how -- how we look at things with Uber. You know we don't have -- we don't have onboarding goals that if we -- if we meet we will - we will you know kind of be happy with -- with coverage. I think we -- it's more important to us to ensure that not only do we have coverage but also are we providing as many opportunities as possible to drivers. I mean these drivers could be working for a few hours week.
They could be going on and off the Uber system extremely frequently as you know members of the -- of the armed services who are -- who are moving from -- from town to town or military spouses. You know they -- we have drivers you know basically choosing their own hours and choosing when to go on and off the app and partner with Uber to such an extent that we -- we want to ensure that we always have reliable coverage. So we don't really look at numbers but we look more at just ensuring that we do have those low ETAs and good coverage in all areas of the state.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Nicole, I appreciate you being here and obviously adding a lot of information here to the members in regards to Uber and some of the questions that were asked for the insurance obviously. If I knew Representative Simanksi could have been here a little earlier today he probably could answered quite a few of it but we do appreciate both of you being here.
I mean listen at the end of the day I think we all know that we're going to have to do something here. And I hope that you are welcoming in regards to what we want to do. Obviously insurance, background checks and vehicle inspections, that is going to be the plan that I would like to see happen. And how we get there obviously will be a -- you know we'll discuss it with members of the committee here. But it's something that you know we understand that has to be fair.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Sure.
REP. GUERRERA: And I think you -- from what I understand I think you're more than willing to see that.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Absolutely. And I think if - if I can just make one final comment I -- I definitely agree that proper regulations need to be on the books for transportation network companies. We've seen it throughout the nation. And it's happening every day every week. We are -- we are holding hearings such as these throughout the nation to figure out this -- this new and exciting piece of the industry.
And I think something that I just kind of want to drive home as I know we've been here for -- for a very long while today hearing from members of not only the TNC industry but also the taxi industry. I think you know if there are improvements that need to be made in the taxi industry then that's -- that's absolutely something that should happen but I think it's a topic for -- for -- for another day. I think it's very, very important that we adopt a separate regulatory structure for this separate technology and these services that we're providing. And I really look forward to -- to finding a solution.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any other comments? Have a safe drive home.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you. Safe Uber home. No, I'm not ubering home.
REP. GUERRERA: I didn't want to say that, Nicole.
NICOLE BENINCASA: Thank you, Chairman.
REP. GUERRERA: Yeah. Mary, you're all set. Right away. What's that? Next Najim Uddin. Najim. Frank Levatino.
FRANK LEVATINO: Hello.
REP. GUERRERA: How are you, Frank?
FRANK LEVATINO: Good.
REP. GUERRERA: Thanks for waiting.
FRANK LEVATINO: Okay. I had no choice. I got a ride here. Frank Levatino. I'm not here to complain about how much Uber has cost me. I work for Metro. I make plenty of money. What I don't understand is if you pick somebody up from point A, bring them to point B and collect money for it that makes you a taxicab. I don't understand how you are not a taxicab. If I open up a corner bar without getting permission from the State I'd be closed the next day. So how could I start a cab company and then a year later try and get permission to run that cab company. I've already been running it for a year.
There's no other business that can do that without going to jail or being closed down. But anybody can buy a car and become cab company without permission and then a year later try and get permission. And as far as different laws for rideshare, well if you make those laws real good then every cab company just going to become a rideshare. There will be no cab companies if that's more attractive to be a rideshare.
You know the cab goes by meter. I would love to make up my own price. The law don't let you. You've got to go by the meter. I'd love to charge more at night or on holidays or whatever. You can't do it. But I don't know. Illegal is illegal is illegal. But evidently with car companies it's not. You get a lot of leeway there. That's pretty much all I've got to say.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Frank. Any questions for Frank? Thank you, Frank. Okay. Have a good night. Buddy Boskello. How are you?
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Hi. How are you?
REP. GUERRERA: Good.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: I'm actually Anthony Boskello from Greenwich Taxi. A lot of points have been covered and I just want to cover a few points about the drivers and if you overflow the -- the territories and the areas with too many drivers it begins to make the income --the income will drop for each driver and resulting in them not being able to make a living for their families. So I keep thinking of deregulation. That's the only thing that keeps popping into my head. So if Uber keeps coming in and puts more and more cars on it's going to be less money for the existing taxi drivers so they're not really creating jobs in the -- in the State.
They're just taking the jobs away from the existing taxicab companies because the taxicab companies and the ridesharing to me are both the same. It's the same exact thing. There's no difference and I keep hearing knowledge. I have no knowledge of this. I have no knowledge of that. I have knowledge if car 67 went down the street and had a couple of drinks because I have a camera in the car. I know if someone -- if a complaint, I get a phone call if a little girl was in the car and she wasn't driven properly because the parents will call me up.
I have knowledge with everything that happens with my company. And again -- and something else that I heard was that a driver -- an independent contractor for Uber wouldn't have any knowledge of receiving a call from a customer. If -- and I think I'm pretty much on the money. If you're an independent contractor in the State of Connecticut you're independently able to have your own customers. Therefore they're going to call you on your cell phone. That's why they are an independent contractor.
They're not an employee. So if a customer calls them on their phone and the apps not on and they hit somebody and somebody gets killed then where's the insurance. If one of the taxis -- one of the taxi drivers working for a taxi company in this State gets into an accident they have the commercial insurance and it's covered. So I just -- I don't understand it. And the reason why everybody uses Uber and why everybody keeps going oh why is everybody calling Uber and using them it's very simple, they're the first ones here. They came here illegally and -- and they were allowed in.
What if I took my -- my app on mine for Greenwich Taxi and said to seven -- seven of my friends, all right guys go ahead give it a shot for a year. Let's see what happens. I couldn't do that. It'd be illegal. It'd be against the law. So just like my app I have 234 people that signed up in the last three months. Uber has a lot. They've had a huge head start and it's the same exact thing. The difference is is that I'm with DOT codes with how I charge with my app. It's monitored to my meter. And that's it.
REP. GUERRERA: Is it Buddy or Anthony?
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Buddy or Anthony.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. I guess I'll call you Buddy.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Anthony's good.
REP. GUERRERA: Any questions? Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: So this app I did from Greenwich, it's your app?
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Yes. I had to create it.
REP. O'DEA: Well -- and how long have you had it?
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: About three months.
REP. O'DEA: I mean I will say you -- you did that app in response to Uber I presume.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Pretty much.
REP. O'DEA: Because I think -- look I downloaded it. I think it's a great idea. And I think --- think we do have to have a level playing field but one good thing that's come from Uber is that now you're join in their app world so that it makes it easier for your customers to see where the cab is and when it's going to be there which I think is a good thing. Would you agree with that?
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: I would agree with but the difference is is that I know that each territory has a certain amount of taxis that can survive to make a living and I wouldn't say okay you know what I just made an app and go to 15 people, go ahead download my app and go make a living. It doesn't work that way. And on top of that once you start to do that the taxi drivers now are people that are working, making a living.
The Uber drivers that are coming they're working part time. They're trying to you know supplement -- you know supplement their income trying to (inaudible). You're going to have a turnaround of drivers eventually flood the whole entire market and everything is going to go flat. There's not going to be work for anybody. And it's only a matter of time. A level playing field with insurance and everything else is great but they should also have to go through the same things that DOT requires taxicab companies to do and show a necessity and a need for an area. If -- and that's -- and you know that's it.
REP. O”DEA: SO would you -- I know the question's been asked of others but would you be in favor of deregulating that requirement or no?
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: No. I mean you -- if you deregulate it it's all over. It's been done other places. It's been done you know all over the place. If you look Uber's having problems throughout the whole entire world. Why? Because there -- it's -- there's not enough of work. There just keeps flooding the marketplace with cars and with drivers.
And then the quality of the driver is going to go down and who knows who's going to be picking you up. What if you're in a bar and you're drinking and you have the Uber app and you decide to hand it over to a friend and he goes and does the call. How are they going to stop that? There's always no knowledge of how to do this or how to do that but there's no hands on to stop a disaster.
REP. O'DEA: All right. Thank you very much for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: You're welcome.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Senator Leone.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good to see you, Anthony. Quick questions.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Buddy.
SENATOR LEONE: Or Buddy. He'll call you Buddy. I'll call you Anthony. If -- right now you -- you're in Greenwich so you're unable to go to other territories unless you get permission. I that correct? Or can you -- would you be able to move to say if you wanted to take over another territory whether it's Stamford or up the line, Westport, Bridgeport, New Haven, can you go to those territories?
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: I currently applied for -- for plates for Danbury down the Route 7 corridor.
SENATOR LEONE: Okay.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: I've been waiting for seven months. I still haven't gotten a response from DOT yet to do so.
SENATOR LEONE: All right. So you applied but you haven't been given any --
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Nobody's even contacted me or --
SENATOR LEONE: And therefore you can't.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: So I can't.
SENATOR LEONE: You can't. Even though you would love to expand your business if you were given the option much like Uber does.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: With a certain amount of plates, you know that -- that shows the need after a study to see what is needed in the area. Yes.
SENATOR LEONE: No. No, fair enough. And I get that point. I just wanted to highlight the fact that you can't go into other territories unless you get permission and that doesn't hold true on the other -- on the other side of the spectrum. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Senator. Any other comments? Thank you, Buddy, for staying and testifying. Appreciate it.
ANTHONY BOSKELLO: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Frank Uzoka. Frank.
FRANK UZOKA: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, members of the committee. Excuse me. I'm here to tell you from a safety point of view you know when it comes to taxi I don't know how to create jobs but I can tell you about how to ride safe in a cab. I'm proud to tell you that I'm a cab driver for the past 25 years and I always wear my jacket wherever I go. And as soon as I leave my house, I have a computer in my car I'm logged on. Okay. The office knows how many hours I've been driving for the day. They know where I pick up. There's a camera in my car.
It tells any discrepancy or any problem with fare whatever you can call your office and they will call me immediately and ask me oh Frank what's going on with you and this customer? Okay. I will tell you that from a (inaudible) from the safety point of view when you ride with me okay I will bring you to your destination safely. All right. You won't have to worry about you know how -- how I've been driving because I've been doing this for a long time. I've lived in West Haven for the past 31 years. I know the State of Connecticut very well.
I know how to avoid say for example going up a hill in inclement weather like you know last -- yesterday it was snowing. You don't want to ride with somebody that doesn't know the territory. He doesn't -- you don't want to ride with someone that can't even go up a hill because they're not familiar with the area. Okay. I've been doing this for a long time. I know all the safe ways to bring you home without having to you know slide down the hill. The last thing I want to say is that you know I believe you get what you pay for. Okay.
You better stick with me, somebody that will pick you up at eth end of the dance or do you want to go with someone that will leave you after the first dance? All right. You want to ride with somebody who can -- let's say can fly you up in the air and bring you down safely. You know I mean you can pay cheaper fare, you can ride with somebody that promise you oh I -- you're going to ride in a beautiful car, all that stuff. But the point is will they be able to get you to your destination safely?
Okay. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. You know. I know the territory. I know the business. It's not like Uber that will be here today, tomorrow they are gone. All right. Most of the college students they like to ride with us. If something happens I mean my cab has a -- a paint job, orange and white (inaudible) with a nice symbol. You don't have to worry about someone saying well I'm not sure which cab am I going to ride with or whatever, whatever. If there's any problem I have lights up in my car they flash. If there's an emergency oh, and so that cab will slow someone down. You are my cab -- you see my cab number 256.
All right. You don't have to say oh I'm not sure what cab I'm riding with or whatever. You see my number. My number is right here. All you have to do is call my office. All right. You say well I was in cab 256. Let's assume you forgot your passport. You were traveling. By the time you touch Uber and tell them what kind of car that took you to the airport you missed your flight. All you have to do is say to Metro I took Cab 2560. This is my address. They'll come right away at the alarm, bring you your passport, you're on your plane. You're happy.
REP. GUERRERA: Frank, can you summarize please? Just summarize.
FRANK UZOKA: What I'm trying to tell you is this from the safety point of view I think cab business -- you know the taxi company is much better than riding with a company that you don't know. All right in the sense that if anything goes wrong you know who to call, you know -- you know who to contact, you know who you're dealing with. Okay. It's good that you know we get into a relationship at least you make sure that person that you are there. You know it says that I love you. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. I think that's a fair point. And I appreciate you bringing that up. Are there any questions? Again thank you very much for taking the time to wait -- wait for your turn. Much appreciated.
FRANK UZOKA: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Next up is Charles Wisniewski followed by Kristina Baldwin.
CHARLES WISNIEWSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. My name is Charles Wisniewski. I'm the president of Teddy's Transportation System with bases in Norwalk and Farmington. I gave my first talk on livery safety regulations in Washington, D.C. in 1985 to the second annual meeting of the National Limousine Association. I was elected to the NLA board in 1990 and to their office of president in 1993. I was elected to the office of president at Teddy's Transportation System in 1990 at the age of 28. I was a founding executive director of a group called Limousine Operators of Connecticut and after 15 years oversaw its merger with New England Livery Association. I was recently named liaison for NELA, the New England Livery Association to the Connecticut Coalition for Safe Public Transportation, ConnSAFE. I've guided Teddy's Transportation System to an LCT national operator -- operator of the year award in 2012, and NLA operator of the year finalist in 2011, the UConn School of Business family business of the year finalist and numerous awards with Ink Magazine's 5,000 fastest growing companies in America. I've spoken at PTAs on livery safety.
My time with the NLA board took me to meetings at the White House. Teddy's is authorized to provide up to 23 vehicles in general livery service from our base in Norwalk and up to five more from a base with appropriate fares in Farmington. What I learned in my years is that there are three ways lawmakers have traditionally chosen to keep the car for hire public service safe. Vigorously insect drivers, cars, bases and management. Regulate to avoid falling safety margins due to market oversaturation. And finally regulate to avoid older cars.
Connecticut's lawmakers elected to use all three on various levels. So did thousands of elected officials across many hundreds of other jurisdictions across the globe. Relevant Connecticut fees are -- are not high so you must conclude that safety concerns motivated your predecessors. Concerns likely trigged injuries or death. Absence evidence to the contrary but evidenced by vigorous current fights by lawmakers across the globe to to maintain safety standards other jurisdictions seem to be facing the same need to avoid new harms to their constituency. The Uber model is catchy but not because you can push a button and order a car.
You can do that anywhere including Teddy's. It's catchy for two reasons; they like apps and tech in general garner outrageously oversized capitalizations. You can read more about that in my handout which I registered earlier. And with $248 million from Google Uber gives them the power to walk any many passengers slowly into a buzz saw. The real app is this, Uber uses their combination of gobs of money and a champion marketing partner to push their primary business model that being to push past lawmakers to put so many cars into market that users can get a ride in minutes.
So five drivers just sitting around waiting for you to push a button simply must cause something to give. And clearly that has been the fares and the safety nets. Beware of upcoming bad tires and bad brake pads. That's the cost of having too many limousines or taxis in a given market. Just a couple more comments and I'll -- and I'll finish up. In the early days Uber like most people outside out industries likely did not know markets are managed for safety but it was too late to give the money back.
For other examples of marketing triumphing overs safety think about sales of diet cola, sales of cigarettes and the basic clear knowledge of the dangers of aspartame and nicotine causing heart and other diseases. Heck even Uber's continuous use of the misnomer shared ride even got some here to suspend logic and believe that a driver can get paid to drive passengers without also being labeled as an operator of a vehicle for hire. Sure. App bandits are going to oversaturate. They're going to force fares down. I'm all for lower fares but not at the cost of safety.
The United States doesn't stop to -- inspecting beef just to lower the cost of hamburger and it doesn't gut the construction laws just for -- to lower the cost of housing. One last thing, I was told that 28 U.S. states deregulated taxi and livery in the 1970s.
And while nearly all had to rebuild the safety nets the desire to create a softer landing for the unauthorized drivers and operators caused safety to be deplored -- delayed for another 15 years. A 2012 follow up to the 2008 -- 2008 Connecticut study on vehicles for hire regulation has found that Connecticut DOT failed to implement almost all of their recommendations. That is extraordinary job safety. Instead of pulling the --
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. Thank you, Sir. Can you just summarize and make that quick. Thank you.
CHARLES WISNIEWSKI: Sure will, Sir. So can you imagine getting pulled over by a trooper and being asked for your valid license and registration and insurance and just saying you know I didn't have it. I don't have them. I can't show it to you but I promise I have them. It just doesn't make any sense.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. We appreciate it.
CHARLES WISNIEWSKI: Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE: Are there any questions from the committee members? If not, thank you.
CHARLES WISNIEWSKI: Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE: Next up Kristina Baldwin.
KRISTINA BALDWIN: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Kristina Baldwin. I'm here on behalf of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. PSI is a national trade association repressing over 1,000 insurance companies.
In Connecticut PSI member companies write 44 percent of Connecticut's auto insurance coverage. PSI supports innovation in transportation and in insurance. And PSI does not oppose the TNC concept. It is very important however that clear laws are put in place so as to ensure that there are no insurance gaps, that personal auto insurance coverage is not forced to subsidize commercial -- the commercial activity of the TNC business and that there are clear rules and disclosures so that all the parties understand the potential implications of participating in TNC activities.
PCI strongly supports the adoption of laws to address these issues and we support the language that was provided with the IAC's testimony by Eric George earlier on. So let's just focus on period one because that has been the issue about which there been most discussion. So what is it? In simple terms period one is the time when the TNC driver is trolling around, going to a populated area, sitting outside of a stadium, looking at their phone while they're driving, notwithstanding that they might get kicked off the system or whatever. In our view it's a -- it's a very highly risky period.
As you know the drivers are able to get the rides if they're closest to the area where the ride is being requested. So they do need to go to these congested areas and do this activity that clearly is not what is contemplated under our personal lines auto policy. The TNCs try to say that period one is really just personal auto activity but then at the same time when they talk about surge pricing they say they do that in order to incentivize drivers to get to an area of high demand. So that certainly sounds like that's commercial activity, driving to that area of high demand.
So our concern that if that's commercial activity to the extent that the personal lines policy is required to cover loses occurring during that time that -- those loses are going to be passed on to the personal lines policies of all other drivers and it's going to increase premiums in Connecticut. And finally how convoluted is this -- this contingent coverage? You heard the driver from Uber testify that he thought he had commercial coverage from the minute he turned on the app. Even their own drivers don't understand it.
I -- it's -- they came up with this arrangement so that they don't have to cover this period one and so they can try to push it off on the personal lines policies off all the drivers in Connecticut. And we find that highly problematic. Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Kristina. I appreciate you bringing that up because I think that phase one is really where this committee's going to have to try and figure out what's actually occurring, what's not occurring. And the fact that you represent the industry is very important in the fact that we would need to hear from you and the industry as to what is feasible, what is true, what's not true. Given the fact that the previous testimony made it sound like insurance companies were onboard with this model and the primary or the secondary -- there is some sort of agreement as new insurance companies are coming on to the offer this service for TNCs. So I'm not sure if that's quite accurate or not. But if I take what Representative Simanski told us I think everything's pretty much solid so we should be okay there. But that withstanding it is interesting to hear that there still is some confusion out there.
And we're hearing left and aright what's wrong and what's not wrong but we don't have any facts or data in front of us to support the statements and I think that's what we could really use. So to the extent that your industry can help us decipher some of that and provide some actual testimony because as we get into these insurance intricacies I think we're going to need insurance to weigh in on it to really show us what's -- what's working and what's not working. Let me open up to the -- to the committee members. Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your testimony. I was trying to articulate that same point that you were making in a much less of a -- a cohesive manner. So it's the phase one that's the problem. And what you're saying is if we do have legislation here as soon as they turn on the app they should be primary. In other words Uber should be primary.
KRISTINA BALDWIN: Yes. That's our position that you have to have primary coverage for the TNCs from to app on to app off or the time when the passenger gets out of the car, whichever is later. I mean it's -- that's pretty clear. It's the whole contingent coverage arrangement that has been developed in order to try to get out of covering period one that is confusing in our view.
REP. O'DEA: All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SENATOR LEONE: Representative Simanski.
REP. SIMANSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I kind of was taken by your language when you said that these Uber drivers were trolling for rides. I don't think that's the case quite frankly. But my comment is right now the insurance policy is pretty clear and clearly explicit as far as what's covered and what's not covered. At one time carpools were an issue so I know the industry responded by specifically writing coverage that says we will cover carpools.
And I would think that the industry now that they're faced with that stage one of Uber drivers will respond and those companies who want to be profitable will probably offer a product that will in fact specifically cover this. It's something that I'm sure the industry is working on now and we've heard other states have already done that. So just wanted to make that pretty clear.
KRISTINA BALDWIN: Thank you. And -- and actually thank you for raising that point. We do support having the option of either a endorsement that a -- that a company may develop to provide coverage with this -- for this period or having the policy being provided on a commercial basis. We -- as I said we support innovation in insurance so we do support having that option. However it -- we're not -- but we can't cover the TNC activities from app on to app off.
If the personalized policy is covering that then as I said it's going to be all the personal auto policies subsidizing the TNC commercial activities. And you're absolutely right about the language clear and about companies perhaps clarifying their language down the road. But then on the other hand we heard Uber say that they thought the livery exclusion didn't really exclude period one. So there is some -- some lack of clarity out there probably because this is a new product and a number of those exclusions were probably written prior to the development of this product. But at the end of the day the view is that it's commercial activity and the personalized policy shouldn't cover it.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. Let me follow up with another line of questioning along this line. So previously we -- there was a question to one of the drivers if they had told their insurance company that they were a part of Uber and the answer was no. They didn't feel the need for that. But if -- and I don't know if that's true or not. I would think you'd want to tell your insurance company so that if something were to happen at least there'd be more of a clear answer on whatever the circumstances were.
But let's say an insurance company didn't know and then this phase one issue occurred. My fear is that that's where in this battle as to who is going to be primary and who's not when supposedly there's an understanding that both sides are willing to work in a collegial way. I don't necessarily agree with that. What's your point? What's your take on that?
KRISTINA BALDWIN: I think you're absolutely right. And that's one of our concerns as well. So there's an accident during period one. Let's say somebody's injured. I mean think about how this plays out. They've first got to submit the claim to the personal lines carrier of the Uber driver who then has to deny coverage. Then everybody's not going to just say oh okay that's fine.
There's going to be litigation. There's going to have to be investigations. It's going to be a prolonged process which one will be costly and again that's cost to the personal lines auto policy. But two it's going to greatly delay the injured person from getting treatment or if it's the Uber driver's car from getting his car fixed. It's just not a very consumer friendly arrangement. And I -- it's not as clear cut. There's going to be litigation. There's going to be back and forth and it's going to take time.
SENATOR LEONE: And I would assume the -- the insurance company even if they were to have to pay down the road I would think you would drop that driver simply for the fact that they don't tell you that they were part -- that they had this business model that forces the company to be in litigation. Correct?
KRISTINA BALDWIN: I don't know. I think different companies might handle it differently. As I said we don't oppose TNCs so we're not out to like punish our policyholders but on the other hand --
SENATOR LEONE: But you don't oppose TNCs -- you don't oppose TNCs as long as they are part of the policy and they are written into the policy so that's there clear delineations as to who does what.
KRISTINA BALDWIN: Yes.
SENATOR LEONE: You're -- I would suspect that you're not for it not knowing that they're even part of the system and you're just underwriting them as just a standard driver.
KRISTINA BALDWIN: We definitely would like to have that information. Oftentimes we can figure it out through the claims process but again sometimes we can't and then the personal lines policy might have to cover it even though it was a TNC activity so we definitely would like to have that information. But I can't speak as to what the repercussions would be for each individual company if they don't get it.
SENATOR LEONE: And then final question on this point, would -- would insurance company raise rates if their driver told them that they were part of a TNC service or would their rates remain the same?
KRISTINA BALDWIN: Again I can't speak for what individual insurers would do but our rates are supervised and approved by the insurance department and the only way that we could raise rates is if the experience and the data showed that it was actuarially justified. If there's a clear carve out of language and we're not -- and the personalized carrier is not on the hook for TNC activity then there may not be much of an impact on the personal lines policy but it all depends on what the data ends up showing. But as I said that all has to be approved by the insurance department and they would review it.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you, Kristina. I appreciate that. Are there any other questions? If not, thank you.
KRISTINA BALDWIN: Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE: Next up is Richard Cassella and then followed by -- followed by Yunus Tomasati.
RICHARD CASSELLA: How are you? I'm here from Metro Taxi. As what I've seeing on Uber --
SENATOR LEONE: Please just state your name for the record.
RICHARD CASSELLA: Richard Cassella. I currently work for Metro Taxi. What I'm seeing out there for Uber drivers is the other night I was out there driving and they -- the -- six people come to my car and asked me if I can take them which we can't because we're only limited four per car for DOT. So the driver says -- the Uber driver's in front he says Uber, Uber, Uber. And he takes all six passengers in that vehicle. You know. So we're not allowed to do that.
It's only four per car. So the Uber driver's taking more than four passengers and probably charging them flat rates. I've seen it. The driver what he did was he actually turned off his -- his iPhone in the window because you can see it. They have I there. And he charged them who knows. They were going to Quinnipiac University. So I've seen everything out there. I go out there and you know just see what's going on. You know I don't think it's not fair for our drivers. Our drivers are out there to make money other than they're taking money from our drivers when Uber's taking six, five passengers or more. You know. It's not fair.
SENATOR LEONE: Thank you. Are there any questions? If not, thank you. That's very important and we'll keep that for -- as we move forward. Thank you.
RICHARD CASSELLA: Thank you.
SENATOR LEONE: Next Yunus Tomasati followed by Robert -- I'm sorry Roberto. Roberto Mejias.
YUNUS TOMASATI: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Yunus Tomasati. I'm a cab driver for Metro Taxi. And I just to tell I have the experience of Saturday night, February 22 about 12 o'clock midnight I picked up two guys walking in the cold without jackets and they flagged me down. So stopped by and then I -- I asked where are they going. They're going to 20 -- 226 Fondant Street. And I asked them if their car is broke down. No, no he said.
We are riding with Uber and the car is crashed. And then totaled the car. So the asked the Uber driver what -- what are you going to do with us? And he said you are on your own. So he called a tow truck and the Uber driver go with the car and the tow truck. So leave these two guys on the street at night and cold. So I was passing by and I picked them up, take them home. So that's my story. I don't know what their safety policy is because that's not very safe. They're waking in a bad neighborhood.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any comments? Thank you for that.
YUNUS TOMASATI: Okay.
REP. GUERRERA: Thanks for picking them up.
ROBERTO MEJIAS: Yeah it's me Roberto. I drive for 20 years in Metro Taxi. And my question is on got the license plates for New York for pick up at the train station and Uber that's illegal or no.
REP. GUERRERA: I'm sorry. You're asking us if it's legal?
ROBERTO MEJIAS: Yes.
REP. GUERRERA: Are taxi --
ROBERTO MEJIAS: And New York plates.
REP. GUERRERA: I'm sorry. New York plates.
ROBERTO MEJIAS: Yeah.
REP. GUERRERA: I don't think so.
ROBERTO MEJIAS: For Uber.
REP. GUERRERA: Oh with Uber?
ROBERTO MEJIAS: Yeah.
REP. GUERRERA: Well Uber right now we have nothing on the books so they probably could.
ROBERTO MEJIAS: That's it.
REP. GUERRERA: Okay. Any questions? Thank you.
ROBERTO MEJIAS: Okay.
REP. GUERRERA: Rick Szilagyi. Lindsey Limo. Followed by Alex Sherman.
RICHARD SZILAGYI: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. My name is Rick Szilagyi. I'm the executive director for the New England Livery Association. And I appreciate the opportunity to be here today. One of our members in the association is Lindsey Limousine and Mr. Lindsey is out of town and he asked if I would share his testimony today. And if it's all right with you I'd like to do that. Thank you. Michael Lindsey's been a licensed livery operator through the Connecticut Department of Transportation for over 25 years and he apologizes for not being able to be here in person today and wanted for me to tell you that the issue is very important to him and his business.
He feels that this testimony is factual, concise and strips any cloudiness of the issue. Ridesharing, the good, the bad and the ugly truth. The good, as technology continues to improve we see many aspects of society positively impacted. If can simplify facets of our life, make things easier and increase our efficiencies in an ever-changing time focused world.
The so called ridesharing apps that have changed the transportation landscape are a good idea. They help to efficiently match a supply of transportation providers with those people looking for that type of transportation. But that is where it ends. Some would want you to believe that this new technology is so revolutionary that we should rethink the entire model of public transportation. They want you to think that technology trumps all common sense and previous experience.
They use money and slick promotion to influence the minds of legislators and the public to think that technology is hip, cool and new. In reality these so called ridesharing apps are nothing more than a targeted advertising mechanism with a shopping cart allowing the user to select the service they want and complete a transaction. And make no mistake the transaction is still transportation for hire. The bad, providing transportation from one location to another and charging a fee for it is transportation for hire. It's not ridesharing unless the driver's going to the same destination as the passenger and for the same reason as the passenger.
For example sharing a ride to work with a coworker is ridesharing. Making arrangements with a stranger to give you a ride to the airport and paying them for that service is transportation for hire. And the State of Connecticut has had laws on the books that originate from the 1930s to regulate such action in the best interest of the public. These laws are not complex and have stood the test of time to positively protect the public. If I were to invent a new app that sold steaks I highly doubt that the food and drug administration would investigate and change the ways in which cattle are raised, processed and sold.
Offering rides to the public in one's personal vehicle brings in a host of challenges and uncertainties. While you might like to think anyone performing such a task would do so in a safe vehicle that is an assumption that I wouldn't make. Again the State of Connecticut already has rules governing what is safe and what is required of a vehicle when transporting the public. Currently there are need and necessity clauses within the law that require proof of need before a permit for transportation for hire is granted.
This clause maintains a balance of supply and demand to protect this -- the public. When supply exceed demand for such a service expenses will be cut and shortcuts taken in order to maintain the business. I have witnessed firsthand -- firsthand companies in this position run without insurance and without performing the necessary maintenance on their vehicles. A vehicle is not accountable. A vehicle does not drive itself and the responsible party in any vehicle is the driver of that vehicle. Once again the State of Connecticut already has laws that govern the licensing of those responsible for driving our public.
They are subjected to both the state and federal background check and they must submit to regular physical exams and maintain a benchmark of health. Anyone driving a vehicle for hire must be required to hold such a license -- a license endorsement. I know I'm past my time. I'll go real fast now. Thank you. The ugly truth. The legislators of Connecticut have an obligation to protect the public. The concept that is being sold here is nothing new and all one has to do is google the term Uber cases to see a plethora of examples, outcomes and true stories of cases around the country that have proven the perception of the idea.
This idea does not equal the reality of what is happening. The drivers of the vehicles are not independent contractors performing a service for the public but rather employees of a company that provides them with equipment, a special phone, tells them how to dress, tells them how to act and maintains feedback and ratings files that can result in the termination of a driver who does not perform to those standards.
The definition of an independent contractor is fairly simple. The more control the company has over you the more you are their employee. If you obtain the majority of your income from the same source you are their employee. An independent contractor model pays nothing into unemployment. The so called ridesharing model allows individuals to work for an out of state company and still tax the Connecticut unemployment system by simply putting their phone account into another member of the household's name.
An independent contractor is not required to have worker's compensation insurance. When insured -- when injured on the job they will resort to state aide or another source of help when there is already a source in place but they aren't participating. If it walks like a duck and acts like a duck then it's a duck. In summary the State of Connecticut doesn't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to public transportation. For over 75 years this State maintained a clear record with a minimal amount of incidents involving transportation for hire companies and the public in which they service.
Why would you risk that record knowing full well the outcome of deregulating the current laws are allowing someone to perform for hire transportation without abiding by the same exact laws that are currently in place. The results and repercussions of allowing these so called ridesharing companies to operate without abiding by the same standards and regulations that are currently in place for such a service are frequently in the news and on the web.
The State of Connecticut needs to learn from the mistakes of other states and the cost in terms of loss of life and lives that are changed permanently and forever by not recognizing that these apps are performing no different of a service.
REP. GUERRERA: Rick, we're going to have to -- can you end.
RICHARD SZILAGYI: Yup. These apps are performing difference of service other than legal providers of public transportation are today and as such they need to be regulated in the same exact manner. And we support H.B. 6349 because without regulation you do not have a mechanism of protecting the public.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Rick. Any questions? Thank you for your testimony.
RICHARD SZILAGYI: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Alex Sherman. Is Alex here? Francisco Remman. Francisco. How about Riahi from Greenwich Taxi. There's no one else. Derrick Brown.
DERRICK BROWN: Okay. I'm here today to represent Metro Taxi. All these questions have been asked about how come--
REP. GUERRERA: Derrick, just state your name for the record please.
DERRICK BROWN: Oh, okay. Derrick Brown.
REP. GUERRERA: That's all right.
DERRICK BROWN: Derrick Brown. Question's been asked about how come everyone wants to try Uber. Well number one of the things that they do the solicit free rides. They go -- they go into parking lots, they have all these workshops in different hotels soliciting people that come. I was even solicited today in here, coming to this meeting. I would never, ever want to work for a company who does illegal asks, who don't -- who doesn't abide by the rules and regulations of the State, who just hires anybody without doing any background checks. You know.
And you know that come in my car they say to them you know I tried Uber but I don't like them. I said what happened? They said to me well one incident that happened they say that an Uber driver picked me up, we paid them up front $30 as soon as he got on the highway he pulled over to the side of the road and said get the F out. Left the people on the highway. It was cold out. They was nowhere near their destination and they had to call a state trooper. The state trooper says when he got there there's nothing he could. But he was nice enough to give them a ride home.
There's so many different stories. There's been incidents and stories about the students tell us that that the Uber drivers are partying with them in the car. That's why they -- one of the reasons that they like them. And -- and you know they can put more than one person in the car, up to seven and eight people in one car.
I made a Uber driver who used to work for Metro, I know him. I made him take all those people out of his car. I said you don't take these seven people -- eight people out of your car I'm going to report you. He stopped the car and told them all to get out. My point of this is that if I have to abide by the rules and regulations of the State and be regulated so does everyone else. That's my point. And you guys got a big job because I'm telling you because this is a lot of work.
Because here you got people coming up in the mic speaking with all these lavish words telling you a bunch of lies, half of them -- 80 -- 80 -- 75 percent of them used to work for a taxi company. Doesn't have anything great to say about them. So now here they're now -- here they're now going to come in and pressure you guys by saying how great they are. If they're so great how come countries are banning them? How come Las Vegas banned them from being in the state?
If they're so great, if they're protecting the people so much what about our protection as the driver? Let me say one thing. I had an incident that happened to me last week which I'm glad about the regulations. I'm glad that the company I work for have something to protect me. There was a person in my car. He didn't want to pay so he stands up in my cab and want to fight me. So what did I do? I pressed the button to call dispatch. Dispatch called the cops.
So why were you in the (inaudible) driving or did the person have his hand in his pocket? I didn't know what he had in his pocket. So he said keep driving. Keep driving. Stop looking back at me. So I kept driving, I kept watching him and then when I finally got to a certain area here comes the cops for my protection. Who's going to protect an Uber driver if they have an incident with a person who wants to stick them up?
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any comments? Thank you for your testimony. Thanks for waiting.
DERRICK BEOWN: Thank you, Sir. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Chris O'Brien. Followed by Andrew Clark, Jim Fazzalaro, Ken Barone.
CHRISTOPHER O'BRIEN: Good afternoon.
REP. GUERRERA: Good afternoon.
CHRISTOPHER O'BRIEN: My name is Chris O'Brien. I rarely ever use a taxi. I've only ever used a taxi once in Connecticut and I've never used Uber. I'm sitting here as a consumer. As far as where I sit I look three -- three things I think you should consider when you're crafting legislation or regulations on the industry from the consumer's point of view. Is one does the driver have a valid driver's license. Two, are they -- have enough insurance just in case something were to happen, god forbid an accident to cover myself and any other passengers. And three is the form of transportation convenient and affordable. And certainly these new innovative forms of transportation are more competition I think is a good thing.
And I want to keep -- ask the committee to keep in mind other forms of transportation I've seen around the world that you might want to consider in case they come here as new innovations. So before I do, there's -- as I travel I sometimes stay in hostels as an alternative to hotels. And if there's no hostels available I'll stay -- I've done couch surfing. There's no regulations on couch surfing.
You trust the person you're staying with and you talk to them ahead of time. In the rental car industry there's zip cars where a zip car you don't have to go up to a counter but there's a car on the street and you use an app to pay for that car. In London, England there's a website called drivemycarhome.co.uk where if you've had -- if you've been out partying and you have some drinks and you don't want to drive your car home, you don't want to worry about parking fees or worry that your car's going to get towed in the morning, someone will come up, not a cab but in a fold up bicycle, fold up the bicycle, put it in your trunk and drive you and your car home to your destination. In Albania I went -- my brother served in the Peace Corps in Albania a few years ago. They have what is called furgones. They're not cabs and they're not buses.
They're kind of a quasi mix of the two, ten passenger vans that go from one town to another. They don't have regular routes but they have independently owned drivers that will say when they're going in the front of their windshield. They may drive around the circle of town a little bit until they have enough riders and then they'll take off to the town that you're supposed to go to. They drop you off or pick you up along the way and if you say well I want to go to this little pert place just a little off the route that you usually take they may take you there door to door service.
When I came back from Albania I said you know it would be kind of neat to maybe this business style might not work in Connecticut but I started learning about the taxicab industry in Connecticut an di learned about some of the regulations that are here and I said well this is a pretty tight market I guess. There's a lot of regulations that you have to meet including being on call 24-7 365. So I would ask what if someone wanted to have a part time cab service that's only available during certain hours of the day.
I work nights as EMT and I'm sure if you drive around your local towns and cities after nine o'clock, or ten o'clock at night there's not much activity so I don't know how these guys do it late hours of the night and why can't they shut down at midnight or some time earlier or perhaps a seasonal cab service that only works on weekends or perhaps the Durham Fair or Woodstock Fair if they wanted to start up a cab service that worked only during those special events or maybe Mystic Seaport only in the summer during those times that --
REP. GUERRERA: Chris, I'm going to have to ask you to wrap up here.
CHRISTOPHER O'BRIEN: Yup. So I just want keep you -- ask that you keep in mind some of those possible alternatives that may come down the line down the road. Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Chris. Absolutely. Any comments. Thank you. Thank you very much. Before I ask Andrew Clark and Jim Fazzalaro and Ken Barone to come up is there anyone else that would like to testify that didn't sign up? Seeing those, then these will be our -- all three of them I guess you might as well come up.
Nice to see you guys and thank you for the report and thanks for all the hard work. And nice to see Jim and Andrew who obviously were no surprised were part of this committee as we all know. There is life after the LOB isn't there? Is there anything? Did you want to make a statement or anything or is it something that you want us to ask you?
ANDREW CLARK: No. Not in -- not in particular. I just wanted to -- I'm Andrew Clark. I direct the institute for municipal and regional policy at Central Connecticut State University. This is Ken Barone and Jim Fazzalaro who were contributors to the report as well. Two of the authors aren't here today but we heard the report characterized earlier and we just thought that if the committee would indulge we'd read it from cover to cover.
REP. GUERRERA: Wrong again, Andrew.
ANDREW CLARK: No. We just wanted to be here in case there were any questions.
REP. GUERRERA: No. I appreciate it. Yeah. I'm sure we're all going to be reading it after this and we may ask you to come in to just give us a little one on one to some of the committee members if they have questions. But I mean if there's any questions by all means. Seeing none. Representative Lavielle.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the report.
ANDREW CLARK: Sure.
REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you for your work. I was just curious how long you've been working on it? When did you start?
ANDREW CLARK: Well Jim, when did you start working with the taxi and livery industry?
JAMES FAZZALARO: No, I think we had about eight weeks I guess from the time we got to the agreement through the agreement process with the Department of Transportation to -- to pull the basic material together and the first draft of our report was done I think on February fourth -- fourth or fifth was when we all got together. And we've all been working on different aspects of this. So it's been a relatively short amount of time that we've had to work on this. And so as you can see in sort of the way the report is structured it's based on pulling together a lot of existing information rather than trying to create new information because there really wasn't a timeframe that would -- that would allow for that.
ANDREW CLARK: Sorry, I didn't mean to mischaracterize that. I mean to say that Jim for 35 years was -- worked at OLR with the transportation and public safety committee so he very well knows the taxi and livery industries before he came on to this report.
REP. LAVIELLE: When did -- I had this and of course I took it out of my very encumbered CGA email and now I can't find what it said. But the -- when did we pass the public act that required the report? Was it last year?
ANDREW CLARK: Last session.
REP. LAVIELLE: It was last session.
ANDREW CLARK: I believe it was in the (inaudible) bill or one of the (inaudible).
REP. LAVIELLE: Yeah. I can't -- can't remember but it said in my subject line of my email and I -- I can't find that anymore. Pardon me because it just came this morning. But --
REP. GUERRERA: Representative, it was the last session. Gail, just to let you know.
REP. LAVIELLE: Okay. Thank you. So it was -- when was it due?
ANDREW CLARK: When was it due to the Legislature? February first.
REP. LAVIELLE: Okay. All right. So we're just -- yeah, it's usually -- those overrun a little. I was just curious. And do you -- was there anything that you would like to share with just hat you thought was the most important aspect of what you -- what you learned form that that we should pay attention to from the report from doing the exercise?
JAMES FAZZALARO: I think our approach in going back and looking at the way the law was worded was to look at these new events surrounding the transportation network companies and -- and what they were introducing into existing structures from the perspective of as the law required how it interfaces with the existing regulatory structure.
So because that was really the aim of the legislation our -- our goal really was to see how is the existing for hire industry regulated in this State and how does this new way of doing business present either issues or challenges for the regulatory structure and for the -- the laws in terms of how to accommodate it without necessarily trying to put it out of existence but how would you -- how would you work this kind of a new concept into the existing regulatory structure.
And the regulatory structure really it -- it focuses on the standards that the State creates for -- and has created historically for issues of public safety and public convenience in the provision of these kinds of services. So our focus really was not only in the -- in doing the research in terms of where other states had already gone down this path to try to identify what some of these issues were but to try to figure that out within our own regulatory structure.
And what we found is consistently in every state whether it was Virginia or California or Colorado that had already gone down this road prior to -- to this legislation being passed in Connecticut. They were focused on exactly these issues which was vehicle safety, driver qualifications and insurance.
And it was so consistent around the rest of the country that it -- it just seemed to grab the focus of this particular analysis into those areas as well and how it works when you look at the Connecticut regulatory structure. So I think that's really how these focal points got created because it was -- it was pretty much what we were -- we were observing everywhere that was a concern in -- in other governmental structures that we're really trying to deal it's whether they were statewide or -- or municipal.
REP. LAVIELE: Before I had to leave the room to go off to another committee we talked a lot about states where things seemed to be working pretty well. Was there anywhere that you found where things just became a mess?
KENNETH BARONE: I think I'll speak to that a little bit. In our -- we did a -- we tried to do as comprehensive of a literature review as possible with regards to the regulations and the areas around the country in which TNCs were emerging. And I think what you -- what you'll find in reading the report is that we focused in particular just on a handful of jurisdictions because they seemed to be the furthest along in their development of some form of regulations or dealing with this industry.
But I would -- I would argue that -- that this issue is a mess in most of the other places where other states and other jurisdictions are in the same position that we're in today in Connecticut in that they're dealing with typically a regulated industry and this new entity that's coming in and providing service and trying to figure out how they fit and how they're the same and how they're different. And in terms of a specific example it's hard to pinpoint one in particular because this is changing every day.
There are lawsuits and legislators that are -- that are grappling with this issue every day. But the report I think does cover some jurisdictions that you'll want to look at just to understand the process that they've gone through. And maybe it will make you feel more comfortable to know that Connecticut is not in any different of a position than has -- than other states or other legislatures or other local jurisdictions are in.
The one thing unique about Connecticut is that we're one of only nine states that regulates the taxi and livery industry on a statewide level. So most other states regulate this industry at a more local level. Right. So New York City regulates the New York City taxis. Houston, Texas regulates the City of Houston.
You'll see examples of that where the state doesn't have a regulatory role but the local jurisdictions do and so that has caused quite a bit of disruption if I could use that word, in many of those local jurisdictions and its harder I think for them to navigate than it is for a state.
I would say also there's other locations grapple with the issue of transportation planning and how this folds into that. For instance New York City does a lot of work with their taxicabs figuring out through data that they collect where rides are taken, who's using them and the like. And I believe Boston just entered into an agreement with Uber to share information for transportation safety -- planning purposes. So that's another element of it where you can't necessarily compare apples to apples if in Connecticut it hasn't really been utilized for that purpose.
REP. LAVIELLE: Okay. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Appreciate you being here.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you, Representative. Any other comments?
REP. O'DEA: Just briefly if I may.
REP. GUERRERA: Representative -- Representative O'Dea.
REP. O'DEA: If you all could open up your 43 page report to page four we'll start there. No I'm just kidding. Thank you, gentlemen. I'm done.
REP. GUERRERA: Seriously on a serious note, thank you for the report. It was a lot of work. We understand that. In a short timeframe I do want to say and I appreciate everything you guys have done. I'm sure that we'll have some questions once we review it a little more in depth and I appreciate you always being there to call on.
JAMES FAZZALARO: Representative Guerrera, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate having the opportunity to sit in the honorary Mike Reilly public hearing deposition. Having been over at the side of the room all those years you just -- you just get to appreciate what it's like to be able to go last.
ANDREW CLARK: And I just want to say that we know you got the report today so you really hadn't had a chance to read it but in the event through the course of the day you had questions we just want to make ourselves available.
REP. GUERRERA: And I mean that sincerely. I really do appreciate the work that you guys put into this and it's not easy. I get it. And you know it's a difficult -- it's just a new technology and depth and regulations and all that and in a short timeframe for you to get -- get us this. I knew it was due the first week of February.
Unfortunately you know as many things sometimes when you do it right I may take a little bit longer but you got it out to us and we appreciate it. And I'm sure many of us may be calling you for some in depth expertise if we don't quite understand all of it because you know guys are the guru when it comes to all these regulations. So but thank you very much.
ANDREW CLARK: Thank you.
REP. GUERRERA: Senator Boucher.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Mr. Chairman, in reference to our good friend, Mr. Reilly, I understand there's going to be an opening in that chair come the end of this session. You may want to be thinking about it.
REP. GUERRERA: You better be pretty theatrical I could tell you that.
ANDREW CLARK: All I can -- all I can say is I retired from here in 2010 and I was doing fine for a while and now all of a sudden I feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather III which is every time I try to get away something grabs me back in. But I do -- I do appreciate to consider that -- that exalted position.
REP. GUERRERA: Thank you. Any other comments from the committee? Seeing none, we'll adjourn the public hearing. Thank you.