After weeks of threats, Madison undercover officers have nailed two rideshare drivers with tickets totaling $1,317 each.

On Friday an undercover officer, after being charged $14.35 for a ride downtown from Odana Road, ticketed Uber driver Michael Jesson of Middleton for three violations — $313 for operating without a name and photo ID, $313 for operating without a vehicle permit tag, and $691 for illegally transporting a passenger for hire — for a total of $1,317. He was also cited for making an illegal U-turn. On Saturday a second undercover officer nicked Lyft driver Vincent Cozzi, 59, of Madison, for the same amount after being charged $17 for a ride from University Avenue to the Dane County Airport.

On the heels of the enforcement action, representatives from the two ridesharing companies will in town Tuesday to make their case for the rideshare industry in a panel discussion with the general manager of one of the taxi companies fighting their incursion into the Madison market.

The Wisconsin Technology Council is hosting the discussion Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at a luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive. The cost: $35 for non-members and $25 for members.

The panel will include Candice Taylor from Lyft and Nick Anderson from Uber, the two ridesharing companies that have cut into taxi profits in other cities and are fighting a national multi-front war against established taxi services and government regulators. They will be appearing with Green Cab of Madison general manager Phil Anderson, who has problems with allowing competition that doesn’t have to follow the same rules as established taxi services. Also scheduled to appear is downtown Madison Ald. Scott Resnick, a likely mayoral candidate who plans to introduce a city ordinance that would allow the upstart companies to operate legally.

The rideshares have the potential to rise to the level of a campaign issue because Mayor Paul Soglin has warned them to adhere to taxi regulations or risk fines.

Uber and Lyft are the two most prominent of a number of rideshare services that have perplexed U.S. city officials and drawn fire from established taxi companies. They have been operating in Madison since late February.

While the rideshares have been met with hostility in some communities, others have given them free rein. An example of the divide can be seen in the Twin Cities, where St. Paul has allowed rideshare drivers to operate without conditions and Minneapolis has required them to obtain taxi licenses.

But the largest battleground is in Illinois, where the burgeoning rideshare industry is fighting statewide regulations currently pending in the state house.

Uber and Lyft drivers use their own cars, connecting with customers through smartphone apps in a process that operates under the radar of city officials, with the exception of the large pink mustaches that adorn Lyft vehicles. The companies claim to be exempt from taxi rules because the drivers use their personal vehicles and don’t charge fares, asking instead for “donations.”

Resnick, a likely mayoral candidate, says he’s planning to introduce an ordinance that would ban rideshare drivers from picking up hails. But Resnick said the city's Transit and Parking Commission will decide whether or not to hold them to the requirement of operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Local taxi companies are hoping the city will adopt rules to keep rideshares from picking off fares during peak times and adjusting the prices of fares at will, without the cost of maintaining operations round-the-clock.

Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.

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(64) comments

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Cab companies have to have commercial livery insurance on their vehicles worth $1 million/occurrence at all times. Cab companies do this. A copy of each company's policy is on file with the city. This costs a lot of money. Like $10K/cab expensive.

Uber & Lyft have to have commercial livery insurance on their driver's vehicles worth $1 million/occurrence at all times. This also costs a lot of money, so Uber & Lyft choose not to buy it. This saves them money so they can keep their costs lower.

As you can see, it is unfair competition. Nothing is stopping Uber or Lyft from entering the marketplace. However, they must comply with the insurance rule. We can talk about some of the others, but this must be in place first before they can legally operate.

Norwood44
Norwood44

Madisoncabbie. You are being faced with a new competitor that customers like. All your talk about insurance and such is a smoke screen designed to keep competition from the marketplace and your old, unsatisfactory model firmly entrenched. Customers drive the train.
This is disruptive. You don't like the disruption. But you can't stop it.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Its not. Its one of the only things preventing them from operating here legally.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Simple question norwood.

What is wrong with having Uber/Lyft dispatch drivers who follow the same regulations other companies and other drivers must follow?

Norwood44
Norwood44

Fart. So you want the kind of change where everything to remains the same? I think there could be a some adjustments to the new model for consumers' sake, but I am a big fan of customers and the marketplace. The Madison taxi model is being subjected to competition. Competition in the name of customer satisfaction is a good thing. Madison cabbie never talks about the customer. He talks about insurance. If I was in the taxi business I would look at the new model and figure out why the have appeal and change so that they would lose their competitive advantage. You don't even hear mad cabbie admit that madison taxi service has some real problems with customers.
Looking at their own model would be a great start for madison taxi companies.

dadoron
dadoron

I totally agree. If you cleaned your own house madisoncabbie, maybe you wouldn't be so worried about healthy competition.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

You don't see me talking about it. Admit? Am I on trial? Are you trying to accuse me of bad service? I don't talk about it because they I'm the one on trial. I talk about insurance because they don't have it and don't want it. Without it, their service can't exist. I don't care if they say they serve the customer better. They get to choose a certain segment of society. I don't like that kind of segregation in my community. We have enough of it.

dadoron
dadoron

http://blog.uber.com/uberXridesharinginsurance

madisoncabbie, this should ease your mind about the insurance claims you make. The fact that you keep trying to use scare tactics on this board speaks to your integrity. Drop it already.

Uber insures each and every driver with a 1 million dollar policy. Plus the drivers are required to have their own insurance on top of it. The fact of the matter is, I feel safer and happier in an Uber than in a cab. I'm the customer and I want a choice.

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

It is easy to say regulations impede competition.

I saw Cramer from Squawk Box do the same thing when he was complaining about the regulations he faced trying to open a restaurant in N.Y. After going on for 3-4 minutes, one of the other Morning Joe guests asked Cramer to identify which regulations he thought should be repealed or changed. Cramer ended up admitting that the regulations were for the good of the public and that they couldn't be eliminated or relaxed.

So quit dancing around the issue Norwood. What specific changes do you envision and what are your specific justifications for specific changes?

dadoron
dadoron

Madisoncabbie, you need to stop spewing out misinformation and conveniently leaving out the real truths. A passenger that presses their Uber app to request a ride, is immediately shown the fare prices before accepting a ride. You weren't willing to admit you knew this info until Stan called you out on it. Reality: Drivers for Uber can't tamper with fares the way taxi drivers so commonly do. Why do you keep trying to scare people with an insurance coverage issue that is false? Here is the real fact: http://blog.uber.com/uberXridesharinginsurance

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

That's not true. You don't have to put in a destination for Uber. And you can't with Lyft. Many new users won't put in a destination. But that's not the issue. Also Uber & Lyft drivers can manipulate fares too by not ending the run and driving around the block or more to inflate the price. It has been done multiple times already. But that's not the issues either.

I urge you to do a bit more research on the insurance issue. The insurance that you link to isn't primary and it only covers the passenger. It doesn't cover anything else including the other driver, other driver's passengers, the other driver's car, pedestrians, bicyclists, property damage and the Uber or Lyft driver's car. Lyft & Uber tell their drivers that their personal insurance will cover everything else, but it won't. Personal insurance doesn't cover passenger-for-hire operations (livery). The Uber or Lyft driver is stuck with the bill and the other people involved get hurt as well because they probably won't get compensated.

Norwood44
Norwood44

cabbie. Are you really that concerned about our insurance? I think you are far more concerned about the protection of your franchise that has come competitive flaws.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Are you a driver for Lyft or Uber? Then I could care less about your insurance. And I actually don't cab much. People can vouch for me. I am concerned about my community.

dadoron
dadoron

Again Madisoncabbie- not true information. You seem to think you can say whatever you want to make your story sound good and people will believe it. I won't even justify your comments with a response. Stop being a fear monger. There are no laws being broken here. Your cab company would be wise to spend time more wisely by working to improve your cabs, car conditions, drivers, dispatchers and service to riders. Then you'll have your fair competition you're screaming for.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

"I won't even justify your comments with a response." Looks like you just did.

You obviously drive for one of these companies. If you don't think laws are being broken, then you won't mind sitting in front of a judge and telling him that as well.

dadoron
dadoron

No madisoncabbie, I did not respond to your false insurance claims. And no, I am not a driver for either company but am an extremely happy and satisfied Uber customer as is the rest of my family. It is so refreshing to have nice, friendly, attentive drivers taking me around in great, clean newer cars that don't have a stench smell and puke stains on the floors and where you don't have to worry about them breaking down. It is such a different experience than taking a taxi or cab. Not even close. We love Uber in other cities as we can take UberBlack and UberSUV. It's wonderful to request a car and have the driver hold the car door open for you and actually help you with your luggage. Sadly for you madisoncabbie... the best thing about Uber is that it is NOT a cab company!

dadoron
dadoron

By the way, Uber drivers don't have to "drive around the block or more to inflate the price" like you say cab company drivers do, because drivers for Uber are making more than twice as much money driving for Uber. They don't tamper with the fares like everyone knows cab companies are notorious for.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

They are not making twice as much. They are making similar amounts I've heard. And get on twitter. You'll see Uber & Lyft complaints every day, every hour, even every minute. They do tamper with fares. Some by accident, some by purpose.

dadoron
dadoron

Uber drivers get 80% of the fare. Uber gets 20%. Now madisoncabbie, do you want to tell the truth about what cab companies get versus their drivers? And don't forget to add in the user fee they must pay the taxi company for the use of their car.

dadoron
dadoron

The difference between Uber complaints and cab company complaints, is that Uber encourages conversation, comments and ratings so that they can accurately assess their driver partners and investigate into any claims by passengers. If an Uber driver has a rating (on a scale of 1-5) of less than 4.6, they are let go. We could only have wished for that kind of service all these years with the cab companies! Oh you could complain all you want to them, but as you said madisoncabbie, "dispatch doesn't care." I'd love you to check Uber's twitter feed as well, as it has all kinds of positive comments as well.

bsrivastava1
bsrivastava1

Even if Uber pays this fine (which they won't), we do realize this is like fining an NBA player for flopping, right? #dropinthebucket

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

If Uber won't pay, then the drivers have to. Eventually drivers won't do drive anymore. If they do pay and continue, I agree. But police have the power to impound the vehicles as well. And there are other options.

dadoron
dadoron

Which they will.

bananahammock
bananahammock

Duder. This is great PR. They are upholding the law and city ordinances. They may be old laws and ordinances that need updating but that doesn't mean they should just be ignored.

Stan
Stan

Madisoncabbie - "preferred" for whom? A customer should be able to be picked up in any legally permitted and safe area. You have no way to know why a customer requests a certain location - maybe they are carrying something heavy. And somehow you are appalled that customers want another option????

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

I'm not saying a customer shouldn't. But if you the driver has problems finding that particular area, maybe the customer should move to a better position if they want to get picked up in a timely fashion. I'm not appalled either. I just know by experience when customers give obscure locations it is a lot harder to find them fast. And with inexperience cab drivers it is more difficult. Green cab drivers are given customer's phone numbers so in theory the driver could have called the customer to know what street the loading dock is off of.

dadoron
dadoron

Uber passengers are given the driver's name, photo, phone number, make and model of car and location immediately upon accepting the ride. They can watch on their phone where the driver is as he drives to pick them up. The driver also has the passenger's cell #. This is all very handy as one time my husband had to change his pickup location when the driver was already on his way. All it took was a call to the driver. You can't beat that kind of service.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Add some insurance, yes you can.

dadoron
dadoron

They have insurance madisoncabbie. You know it, now suck it up and stop whining.

PapaLorax
PapaLorax

@cabbie... I have only used Uber black... But nothing on Uber ever says donation

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

I was referring to Lyft.

Stan
Stan

G Gordon - for God's sake, please stop insulting our intelligence. Your rant about unlicensed, uninspected vehicles presumes these cars are somehow wheeled deathtraps straight out of "Unsafe at any Speed" that will burst into flame the moment a sweet, innocent, unsuspecting passenger hops in. To be frank, I'd trust a private car more than the few rattling, rust-decorated Madison cabs I've had the "privilege" of riding in. Certainly a private car is likely to have fewer miles on the road and better brakes!

A friend who works at the City/County building recently called a local company (rhymes with "Breen") for a pickup at the loading dock at that building. The driver was unfamiliar with that location. I don't care if it's your first week on the job - this is a spot one freaking block from the Capital.

I also don't care if you have Priuses or propane-powered Crown Vics for "sustainability" cred - you are in a SERVICE industry. If your customers are fleeing to other options, you need to examine your service model - don't cheer for protectionism and run crying to Mayor Grumpypants to save your flawed customer service model.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Are you sure they weren't unsure where the loading dock was? I'm guessing its off of W Doty St. Picking up outside main doors is always preferred, and there are 3 of them for the city-county building.

G Gordon
G Gordon

If you contact someone who otherwise had no intention of going to the airport, and you hire them to take you to the airport, that is not "ride-sharing" as these companies like to claim. It is a taxi service.

If you and a few coworkers are all going to the airport to catch a flight for a business trip, and one of you drives and the others chip in for gas and parking, that is not a taxi service. It is ride-sharing.

Uber and Lyft are taxi services. Everyone knows it. They are underinsured, uninspected taxis driven by unlicensed taxi drivers who are too stupid to know they are putting themselves at a huge personal and financial risk.

Theo
Theo

I love freedom too.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

I like equality.

dadoron
dadoron

Unless someone else wants to pick up a passenger at the airport, right?

jenzut
jenzut

I don't think this is illegal per se. It's a violation of a Madison ordinance. So is smoking pot. Big whoop. The problem, of course, is Madison's awful taxi service and the attitude of the taxi purveyors. As someone who once waited 2 hours at the airport for a taxi on a snowy night, only to be piled into the only taxi that showed up at 11:45pm with 4 others, and then charged full fare to the near west side (while every other fare payed full as well), I say screw the "establishment" taxis!

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

1.) You are forgetting about their lack of proper insurance. If one of these drivers gets into an accident, there will be a lot of not covered people & property.
2.) Even if Madison made these companies legal, they cannot pick up at the airport. There are other Dane County & Federal regulations that they would be violating.
3.) If you were charged full fare for splitting a cab, why didn't you complain to the taxi company and the city? That's illegal. What cab company was it? And what was your price?

jenzut
jenzut

Actually if anyone is injured, they can still sue the driver and his insurance company. Said company might not have to pay, but said driver will certainly be held liable. And you're assuming something catastrophic- a typical auto injury claim rarely runs over $25k. I don't remember the specific company that picked us up that night, the cab was yellow and big enough for 5 of us. I was jet lagged from Europe and just wanted to get home to my dog and wife and kids and bed.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Yes, that's true that if anyone is injured (or their property is damaged) can still due the driver. But his insurance agency will drop him from their coverage and claim no liability because of insurance fraud. If the insurance company gets roped into the claim, they will just turn around and sue the driver. But you are forgetting there are more expenses it an accident than just injury. The other car will be on the driver as well as the expense of his car. And we could be talking about more than 1 person being injured.

I don't think you know what full price is from the airport to the west side in a Union Cab. To Mineral Point & the Belt you are looking at $40+. The split rate out there I believe is $29. Badger & Green Cab to that point is $30+ direct and $20 split.

College Didn't Take
College Didn't Take

JD Crew, maybe they're still trying to get the message out that this is illegal? Frankly, I hope a few free market types miss flights due to some of this enforcement.

ktruth
ktruth

The left usually doesn't care if it is illegal. These cab companies are standing up for the people. Ah, just like the singers who were protesting at the capitol. Need to fight for what you believe in.
Shame, shame, shame all you people who are against these companies..

Stan
Stan

Drug and gang activity are pervasive in Madison and it is only getting worse. Why were police officers pulled off duty from patrolling our city to waste their entire shift trying to hail private ride services? Is this truly the most effective use of our police resources, or rather a vendetta by an angry and grumpy Mayor in a desperate attempt to gin up some public safety crisis out of a molehill?

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Why were you pulled off your job to comment here?

duder
duder

Normally your comments aren't that dumb.

The Madison police force has limited resources. Are we to believe this sting operation is the best use of those resources to protect and serve? Hard to believe.

This action seems _very_ political.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

It isn't that dumb. People have limited resources too. What do you feel about MPD's TEST team and OWI enforcement zones. What about heath inspections or the department of weights & measures?

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Oh and to address the political side, it isn't. Lyft & Uber did not apply to become cab companies. These drivers are facing the same penalties as other gypsy cab operators. Check: Taxi El Burrunto.

duder
duder

Forget the rapes, armed robberies, and heroin epidemic the Madison police force has bigger fish to fry.

What a bunch of idiots. I mean, I know they filter out high IQ people, but this action is dumb, dumb, dumb even for those average IQ folks. Who is in charge of that group?

And I suspect it won't be good from a PR standpoint.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Not good PR for enforcing laws. I suspect you will be wrong. Do you think they police this weekend weren't protecting the public? I believe they made several arrests and wrote several other citations this weekend. The city didn't collapse into a cesspool. I think we weathered the storm.

JDrew
JDrew

I love that it was a sting operation that netted two whole drivers. Out of how many? Really? Because it's so hard to find someone who willingly signs into an app that shows, through gps, exactly where they are? And they come when you call on them? Great work, detectives...

Too bad the existing taxi services in Madison and Milwaukee can't perform the same way with any consistent basis.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

There are not that many of them. A lot of times I only see 2-4 working for either of these companies. Most of the time, you can't get a Lyft or Uber because none is available.

Don't compare Madison cabs with Milwaukee cabs, 2 totally different systems. That comment shows you haven't done your research.

duder
duder

If that's the case (there aren't many), then why all the gnashing of teeth?

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

They are different from other gypsy cab operators in the respect that they are a national organization vs. one or a few independent operators. Lyft & Uber have gone into many cities illegally, its there MO. That's why the aggressive action.

dadoron
dadoron

The actual truth: Most of the time, madison cabs aren't available when you request them or they don't arrive at the time they said they would. Oh, a snowstorm? Or a football game? Raining? Good luck getting a cab in Madison. The dispatcher could care less how many times you call. He'll be just as rude, grumpy and disinterested every time. No thanks.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

You do know that's when everybody else wants a cab too? The dispatch could care less because he or she will get you a cab when he or she can. You calling every 5 minutes doesn't help. But again, that's not the issue. Uber & Lyft refuse to provide proper insurance. They also fail to produce background checks when police ask for them.

dadoron
dadoron

madisoncabbie, you are sounding like a broken record in more ways than one. Uber covers each and every single driver with 1 million dollar policies and makes sure the drivers also have their own insurance. Every. Thing. Covered. So stop spewing your untruths. And yes, madisoncabbie, their backgrounds are checked and they are interviewed. From my experiences as an Uber passenger, I would MUCH rather ride in the car with an Uber driver than with a cab driver. This is only my personal experience but they certainly are more friendly and connected than any I've ever had with a regular taxi/cab company. Oh and you said it correctly. With the cab companies, "The dispatch could care less." With Uber, in most cities, you can get a ride almost instantaneously when you request a car. Madison needs more drivers. If the city wants to scare people, the city is doing its residents a disservice to say the least.

dadoron
dadoron

Uber doesn't go into any city illegally. Again, stop spewing out untruths and being such a fear mongering alarmist. On the contrary, Uber for one, has never gone into a city illegally. Uber checks the laws before launching a city.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

They go into every city illegally. What are you smoking? You credibility has now gone negative. We all know you drive for Uber.

dadoron
dadoron

Wrong again, madisoncabbie. I'm not a driver at all. I'm an extremely happy Uber customer and will only take cabs if absolutely faced with no other choice at the time I need a ride. I'm actually not smoking anything which may be foreign to you, but might I refresh your memory...Uber is not a cab/taxi company. They are a technology company. Uber doesn't own nor do they don't dispatch cars. They don't charge their drivers "use fees" for independently contracting to drive for Uber. They have never gone into a city without checking laws and won't launch in cities where they know it is illegal to do so. So all the huff and stuff about Uber entering into cities illegally is once again... misinformation being fed to the public. They go in legally and if that city chooses to challenge things, then that happens, too. And you know what? If Madison runs Uber out of town because they can't think in today's world, then it will be the residents of this city and surrounding communities that are being hurt. You know it and you don't care, which makes your claim about trying to protect our community phony. What you don't want is competition for passengers. Like I said before, clean up the cab companies, their cars, drivers and service and all companies can live happily ever after.

PapaLorax
PapaLorax

I think they should change the rules...but there is no doubt these were all operating as taxis

I encourage Madison.Com to at least pretend to use the service and find the place where it labels the transaction as a donation...or try and use the service and not pay. Then stop repeating that line in every story.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

PapaLorax, up until 2-3 months ago Lyft called it a donation outside of California (legally they couldn't do so in CA). Then they dropped it because it was too confusing, but some people still use that word. In effect though, even before that, it wasn't a donation. If you took the ride, and then chose to give $0, it would revert it, without your knowledge, back to the full price. If you don't believe me, read the Lyft TOS. You could however bring the 'donation' down to $1 and it will accept it.

Theo
Theo

Competition is your enemy, comrade.

madisoncabbie
madisoncabbie

Thanks for the trolling comments. Competition is not my enemy.

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