0 of 0

Cab drivers in Cambridge staged a protest and strike Monday to demand that government authorities take action to regulate Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies they say are unfairly hurting their livelihoods.

Around 40 cab drivers, mostly working age men originally from Africa or the Caribbean, rallied outside Cambridge City Hall in Central Square and called for members of the City Council to meet with them. They want the government to regulate drivers for the ride-hailing services and force them to carry insurance similar to what taxis have to buy. The cabbies say that because there is no regulation, the new services are unfair to them and unsafe for riders.

Cab drivers operate under municipal regulations which differ from town to two but usually require special licenses, background checks and insurance coverage.

“Put all these regulations on cabs and not do the same thing for Uber. Uber doesn’t have to pay the same price for tolls, they don’t have to pay the same price for insurance,” said driver Michael Gervais who founded a local taxi driver school. Gervais ventured into City Hall and reported back to the chanting drivers that he was told by city staff that the councilors were “too busy” to meet with them.

Even as the rally intensified Monday morning, there were still a few cab drivers posted around Central Square’s taxi stands. One driver in his cab along Main Street wouldn’t say either way if he supports the strike, but told a reporter he could speak to his colleagues at City Hall.

By 11:30 a.m. Monday, a quick glance at the Uber app showed a plethora of available cars with wait times around two to four minutes. Surge pricing, when Uber rates go up to meet demand, was not in effect.

The cab drivers are backing a bill by Rep. Michael Moran or Brighton and Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry of Lower Mills. The bill, H.3702, would allow towns and the RMV access to criminal records law in order to regulate ride-share drivers with livery licenses and add insurance liability rules to the drivers. Gov. Charlie Baker has a similar bill before the Legislature.