Stricter rules could force Uber out of NJ

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Like many Uber drivers, this Filipino has a full-time 9 to 5 job while he moonlights for Uber mostly on nights and weekends.

We’ll call him JT Raphael as he does not want to be identified.

JT says becoming an Uber driver was easy — just go online to apply.

“You can get into the business just having your car, no membership fees,” he said. “And then it totally depends on your schedule. You can work when you want just like I do.”

JT says he makes extra $400 to $600 a week for driving a few hours a week.

But all this may soon change. New Jersey’s taxi and insurance industry are pushing for legislation that would regulate smart phone-based ride-sharing services like Uber.

The bill, A3765, would require drivers to pass criminal background checks, driver’s license record checks, and drug tests.

The New Jersey taxi industry is also demanding that Uber meet the same insurance requirements and licensing fees as that of taxis and limo companies.

Some non-Uber riders in Jersey City agree with the bill.

Michael Dods said, “I prefer cabs because they’re a company. Uber is just an app. You don’t who’s going to pick you up. You don’t know what could happen.”

“The driver’s should get background checks — in case the driver does drugs. That’s dangerous for the passenger,” said Lina Gentolia.

Meantime, the city that is synonymous with yellow cabs — New York City — wants to stop the growth of Uber cars.

Their reason: to study the impact of Uber cars on traffic and the environment.

Uber cars in New York City now outnumber yellow taxis for the first time.

Back in New Jersey, Team Uber NJ said that these Uber regulations would only drive Uber out of the Garden State.

But JT disagrees. He says most of these proposed regulations are already being done by Uber, such as background checks.

He adds that insurance kicks in as soon as drivers turns on the Uber app.

Raphael said, “They can oppose if they want, but  you know times are really changing and people are also changing and most people have access to this smart phone.”

JT says, kicking Uber out is not the answer. Regular taxis should instead find ways to keep up with modern technology to get in the game.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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