June 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Cab drivers protest at Detroit City Hall over work conditions, fares, Uber

About 50 cab drivers protested outside City Hall Tuesday against work conditions and what they consider unfair competition from Uber, which recently signed an agreement with the city to provide transportation services without having to pay the additional bonding and other fees cab drivers are required to pay. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit — About 50 cab drivers protested outside City Hall Tuesday against work conditions and what they consider unfair competition from a city-approved company.

Members of the newly formed Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association drove their cars around the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and held up signs in opposition to what they call unfair treatment in the city. The group stayed outside City Hall for about 30 minutes Tuesday.

Among the concerns is the presence of the company Uber, which recently signed an agreement with the city to provide transportation services without having to pay the additional bonding and other fees cab drivers are required to pay.

Uber — whose cheapest service called UberX charges a $2.80 base rate, plus $1.60 per mile and 20 cents per minute — has argued it doesn’t need to comply with the same regulations as taxis because it isn’t a traditional transportation firm.

Other concerns among taxi drivers include giving them the ability to charge higher fares to deal with rising costs. Fares have not been increased in more than a decade, said cab drivers association President Rebih Reslaan.

“We’re here today because our rates have not increased in 14 years,” Reslan said Tuesday. “We need to increase our rates. We also have vehicles coming downtown from out of state that are taking our business here. They are not legal (and) are uncommercialed. This is not safe for the public. You don’t know who is picking you up. We’re here for safety. We’re doing our jobs here.”

The Metro Detroit Cab Drivers Association formed about six weeks ago, officials said. It represents drivers throughout Metro Detroit, including those in Detroit, Royal Oak and Ann Arbor.

Spokesman Kenneth Kabaka Reynolds is calling for a fuel surcharge much like those in other communities in Michigan as well as a flat rate for downtown.

“The main issue is respect and a meter increase,” Kabaka said. “We’re still the lowest meter rate in the U.S. There’s a lot of issues, but the bottom line is we want to talk to the powers that be.”

Reynolds called this the first of several sessions to let people know the issue is going to heat up.

“Don’t let scab labor come into the city,” Reynolds said. “This is serving notice we’re not going anywhere.”

dnichols@detroitnews.com
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