Committee passes Uber bill as drivers protest at State House

A state transportation committee passed a bill Thursday that seeks to impose more regulations on ride-sharing services like Uber as drivers on both sides of the issue protested outside the New Jersey State House in Trenton.

Uber drivers and unionized taxi drivers stood opposite each other, with police keeping watch. Taxi drivers shouted slogans such as "Uber must go," while Uber drivers chanted their company's name.

People from both sides of the issue took to the lectern on the steps of the State House. "After being out of work for three years, in the last 12 months I've done 5,000 rides and earned $75,004 as of yesterday morning," said an Uber driver.

The bill requires Uber drivers to pass background checks, carry commercial insurance policies and clearly mark their vehicles, among other requirements. Taxi drivers say Uber drivers can undercut their rates because the Uber drivers currently don't have to abide by the same regulations as drivers with the taxi industry.

An Uber representative testified before the state Assembly Transportation Committee, saying, "This bill jeopardizes economic opportunity for thousands of ... partners looking to supplement their income as UberX driver partners."

The bill made it out of committee along party lines, with Democrats voting for the measure and Republicans voting against it. The bill would impose more than a dozen new requirements on Uber and similar services. Background checks and safety inspections would have to be approved by the state Motor Vehicle Commission, and drivers would have to be at least 21 years old.

Uber spokesman Matt Wing has said the regulations would "drive Uber out of New Jersey."

About 5,000 people earn money driving for Uber, according to the company.

AP contributed to this story.

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