Taxi drivers protest strict regulations with 'rolling strike'
Several dozen taxis made a loud statement at Anchorage City Hall Friday afternoon by driving around downtown honking their horns.
The Anchorage Taxi Workers Alliance organized an hour-long “rolling strike” to protest what cab drivers call unfair business practices.
The taxi industry is subject to heavy regulations while ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are not.
Timothy Huit, spokesperson for the Anchorage Taxi Worker Association said, “We’re not going to give up because they’re putting us on our knees so we just want to let them know we’re ready and we will fight for our right and for the people in the taxi industry.”
Huit said he wants either all drivers regulated equally or not regulated at all.
"I'm not saying people shouldn't ride with who they want but we know what happens in America when we regulate one industry and we don't regulate another. The regulated industry either goes out of business or suffers a great financial loss."
Huit said cab drivers' revenue has gone down 30 percent in the past few months, but said part of that could be attributed to more cab permits and a down economy.
Uber Anchorage representative, David O’Malley, agreed having fewer regulations on taxis is a good idea, but said the State of Alaska should be in control.
“We want to keep Uber the way it is. We don’t want municipal control over it," O'Malley said.
The Anchorage Taxi Workers Alliance has given a list of demands to Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, which includes regulating Uber and Lyft under Title 11, not issuing any new taxi permits until 2022, and replacing the current transportation inspector.
If the demands are not met in a “timely manner,” Huit says there could be longer strikes that would impact key areas of the city, like the airport and hospitals.
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