Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft decided not to attend a U.S. House of Representatives meeting on subjects affecting the industry, even as they were officially requested to do so.
Both companies were asked to participate in a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee inquiry held on Wednesday (Oct. 16) about potential laws that could have an effect on the ride-hailing industry as a whole, but neither firm made an appearance, Reuters reported.
“Their failure to appear at this hearing is a telling sign that they would rather suffer a public lashing than answer questions on the record about their operations,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, who leads the panel.
He said the meeting “should also serve also a wake-up call to the companies that have flooded our roadways with disruptive technologies and investor capital that their days of operating with little public policy and regulatory oversight in the transportation space are coming to an end.”
The congressional hearing also covered a number of different issues, ranging from compensation to congestion.
“Perhaps they don’t want to talk about what their model is doing to drive down wages and turn our transportation workforce from a skilled, trained pool of workers earning living wages to another casualty of the gig economy,” DeFazio said.
Uber and Lyft directed lawmakers’ questions to industry associations instead of attending the congressional hearing.
DeFazio said that “the tenuous existence of Uber and Lyft is literally fueled by millions of independent contractors who see their take home pay reduced drastically — below minimum wage in some states — as they are made to pay fees collected by the company, self-employment taxes, and costs associated with operating and maintaining their vehicles.”
DeFazio also said the ridesharing companies are not transparent regarding their operations. The firms “don’t make information about their process for deactivating dangerous drivers public. They don’t share data on the prevalence of assaults on their platforms. They don’t reveal details on how drivers are paid. What we do know is that both these companies are struggling since going public,” he said. “Clearly, this business model is not sustainable.”