Rideshare companies face pushback in Madison

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Police and city leaders are pushing back against ridesharing companies operating in Madison.

Undercover police have fined two drivers from Uber and Lyft more than $1,300 for violating Madison’s taxi ordinances last weekend, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday.

A representative from Uber, a company that hires drivers to use their own cars in shuttling passengers, decried the move.

“It’s unfortunate that backwards thinking and archaic laws, promoted by the taxi lobby, are restricting transportation options for Madison residents,” Nick Anderson, general manager for Uber’s Madison and Milwaukee operations, said in a statement.

Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelen says its operation, a rival rideshare company based out of California, doesn’t violate any of the city’s laws.

But Madison police and Mayor Paul Soglin disagree. Soglin says the ridesharing companies amount to unlicensed taxi cabs.

Police in March warned the companies about the sting operations if drivers continued soliciting riders. When the rides continued, drivers from Lyft and Uber were fined.

“There needed to be enforcement action taken to send a message that the city was not going to tolerate their operation without licensing,” said Capt. Richard Bach with the Madison Police Department’s traffic division.

In response to the debate, some city officials hope to create new laws allowing the businesses to continue competing with the city’s taxi companies.

“I wish that we were able to follow closer to the legislative process to see if we could work out a compromise” before police became involved, said Alderman Scott Resnick, who’s working on an ordinance.

Meanwhile, police have said they may be forced to continue the sting operations if Uber and Lyft keep giving rides before any new regulations are created.

“There is a potential that there could be more enforcement action in the future,” Bach said.

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