Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas is attempting to resolve the impasse between the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Transportation Networking Company, a/k/a ride share provider Uber.
In a Facebook post published on his site at roughly 9:30 PM on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, which we’ve republished in full below, Gatsas summarized the outstanding issues and made the public aware he was getting involved.
Earlier in the day, he sent a letter to Police Chief David Mara to request he or his designee meet with Uber and officials from the City Clerk’s Office to review the procedures Uber uses to screen its drivers and determine whether or not they adequately protected public safety.
Along the lines of protecting public safety, our Web Savvy anchor Jon DiPietro explained why technology makes Uber a much safer choice for consumers than a traditional cab, regardless of how the drivers’ backgrounds are checked, in his weekly interview this morning. Makes one wonder why Uber personnel didn’t make mention of this. Then again, the mayor’s letter makes one wonder why the Committee on Administration and Information Systems, where the matter sat for six months, didn’t request the police department’s input on Uber’s screening protections.
Below is Mayor Gatsas’ Facebook post. Click here for our Live Blog Forum of the debate as it unfolded at both the committee and full board levels so you can get the gist of what happened, when and why.
Hello everyone – apologies for the late response. Let me begin by saying I believe that every Alderman in the city wants to see a solution where Uber, the taxi industry and the city co-exist.
Since October the Aldermen have been working to find resolution & like other communities in NH and across the country it has come with difficulty b/c ride-sharing is a relatively new concept & it does not fit the “traditional” vehicle-for-hire business model.
After months of debate there’s three outstanding issues: 1) background checks, 2) drug & alcohol testing requirements and 3) vehicle registration. Uber has stated that they have a lengthy process for drivers and I have no reason to doubt that they do. However, I do not believe that it is unreasonable for the city to request of Uber to specifically outline this process. After listening to the conversation last evening that is what is at the heart of this matter.
I don’t feel it is too much to ask that the city be shown that the Uber process is satisfactory and comprehensive. To provide a level of comfort I have asked that Chief Mara, the safety officer of our city, meet with Uber and provide feedback. If the Police Chief of our city is satisfied then we will have made significant progress and we will co-exist. This item will appear on the agenda on Tuesday, May 5th and I hope with the cooperation of everyone there will be resolution.
At the same time we need to review the regulations that we currently have in place for vehicle-for-hire.
I agree with everyone that Uber appeals to a different segment of the marketplace. The overlap between Uber customers and taxi customers is small. There is a need for the traditional taxi industry here in Manchester but it is not our role to provide them a monopoly in the marketplace. Our role is to ensure that public safety is not at risk and that is all anyone is asking anybody to do.
We now need to work together to get through these growing pains and I have no doubt that through this process Manchester will emerge a leader and provide a model that other communities will follow.
Have a great evening!