Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 26 2016

Will This State Ban Uber From Picking Up Convention Attendees?

David McMillin

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Over the past few years, services like Uber and Lyft have made finding a way back to the hotel after a full day of convention programming much easier. However, many destinations are struggling to balance unregulated ride-sharing companies with the traditional taxi industry. In Massachusetts, the House recently approved a new piece of legislation that would ban Uber and Lyft from picking up customers at convention center properties for the next five years. Now, as the bill makes its way to the Senate, a new article in the Boston Globe highlights that convention center officials are worried the move will frustrate attendees.

“[Our customers] are taking the ride-sharing companies, and if you take that away, then our business will suffer,” James Folk, director of transportation at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority said. “We’re trying to get as many people here for economic stimulus and everything else, and if we lose that, we’re going to lose our customers.”

It’s no secret that ride-sharing services are having a negative impact on many taxi drivers. In Boston, though, the issue isn’t simply rooted in future earnings for individual drivers. Taxi medallion sales were part of the money that helped finance the construction of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. “I love the convention center, but they wouldn’t be in that building if the taxi financing didn’t help put it together,” Representative Michael Moran said in the Globe article.

Ride-Sharing Around The World

Uber and Lyft have soared in popularity. A new report from expense management supplier Certify shows that ride-sharing services made up 46 percent of ground transportation transactions. It’s not surprising; waving a hand in the air and hoping a driver will stop isn’t exactly a convenient approach to getting from here to there.

As business travelers enjoy the ease of opening an app and requesting a ride, Massachusetts isn’t the only destination aiming to protect taxi drivers. Ride-sharing is still illegal in Las Vegas, and in other parts of the world like Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro, lawmakers are introducing new proposals to limit or ban the services.

The meetings industry means big potential business for Uber and Lyft. Check out “Uber Looks To Cash In On Conventions” to learn more.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Katie 26 Apr
    I find this article very interesting, but as a member of the transportation industry (that is not an Uber or Lyft), I would like to say that most if not all of us have apps that do exactly the same thing as Uber and Lyft. If you are still hailing a cab "the old fashioned way" by flailing your arm around, well, there is a better way. 

    I am not going to bad mouth and bash Uber and Lyft, there is enough of that going on, I just want to educate the public that while Ubers of the world have changed our industry don't think that we never changed with it. We have, however, we have also had to in many cases stay to our stringent way of life. We can do the very same thing as Uber but many regulations still hold us back from being considered a tech company and not a transportation company. We still have to buy every required license that the municipalities require, still have to maintain higher levels of insurance, and still have to require drug, alcohol, detailed background checks, and keep employees to answer our phones with problems and dispatch. While everyone says Uber is cheaper, and they are, everything I just listed comes at a price and unfortunately we have to pass some of that pricing off to you the consumer, because bottom line, we are required to.

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