Supporters of a minimum charge on all rides offered by limousines, livery cabs and other so-called public motor vehicles argue that it’s a necessary mechanism to differentiate them from taxis.
Opponents counter that a price floor unfairly protects taxi companies from competition by restricting new smartphone application-based ride services offered by tech firms such as Uber and Lyft.
Both sides were represented at a standing-room-only public hearing Wednesday before the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers on a proposed $40 minimum charge that was set to go into effect in November but was suspended after an outcry from companies that say it would curtail their business.
Chief among those critics is Uber, the San Francisco-based firm that uses an app to facilitate business between car drivers and customers and then takes a share of any fees charged for rides. The company operates in dozens of cities around the world and started offering services in the Providence area last September.
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