Hundreds of freelance drivers who work Uber gathered in Trenton, New Jersey, on Thursday to protest proposed rules and oversight that they say would put them out of work.
New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill with provisions including mandated state background checks for drivers, a special seal that says drivers have valid licenses, and state vehicle inspections.
"This bill's aim is to drive us out of the state," Josh Mohrer, Uber's New Jersey general manager, told CNBC. "It's to prevent having to compete. And if it passes, we will have to leave New Jersey."
The protest is part of growing tension nationally and globally surrounding the explosion of transportation start-ups—including Lyft—that are in direct competition with traditional taxi and limousine companies. While Uber and Lyft largely are unregulated, city and state officials are grappling with next steps as more consumers turn to smartphones and mobile apps to hail drivers, often at more affordable prices than traditional options.
In New York City alone, there already are more Uber cars than yellow cabs.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who's sponsoring the regulation bill and chairs the New Jersey transportation committee, said a key concern is insurance coverage, NJ.com reported.
"I think it's a difficult issue. We want to allow innovative companies to provide services in New Jersey, but we also have to fulfill our fundamental obligation to ensure that those services are provided safely," Wisniewski told NJ.com.
Late Thursday, the bill narrowly advanced in a legislative committee hearing, and will now advance to a full legislative committee vote.