From what I can observe through research, they are independent cab companies that are taking customers just as cabs would, however, they have different ways of working. If they are going to run like a cab company, they should have to follow the same laws and licensing that other companies do.
If taxis have to pay taxes, that unfairly increases their costs against a rival who can the undercut their service unfairly. Competition must be fair, and if one side is plying an advantage in 'tax', and basic safety regulatory standards, rather than in quality of service .... That is not good. Its a loophole advantage rather than an actual service advantage, and in the end, the consumer gets screwed.
Drivers that work for companies like Uber and Lyft should be required to have Taxi licenses. If you get pulled over or get into an accident, you could be fined for not having the proper license plates. These companies say they will bail you out by paying any tickets you have but it still goes on your record and get hits on your license. If you get enough tickets, you license may be suspended.
Also, if you are in an accident and you don't have any documentation that you are providing a Taxi service, there is no way to know in the event of an emergency who you are transporting.
You could also be transporting a criminal and could be arrested for harboring them if you get pulled over since you don't have any way to prove that they are paying you to give them a ride and have no idea who they are.
These drives need to have taxi licenses to protect themselves.
From what I know about the Uber and Lyft services, I think it is wonderful to be able to make some extra money without the hassel of getting certified. Making the drivers getting there taxi license would mean the companies or the drivers would have to fork out some extra money. Now I do believe the people using the services should be aware of them not having their license that way if they are against it, they can call a taxi. Me personally, if you can make the extra money and it be legal, why not? Is that not the American way? I personally think it is awesome they have come out with this service.
Uber and Lyft are not traditional taxi services. They provide an opportunity for anyone needing work to find a job with a flexible schedule and limited education requirements. In addition, using drivers without taxi licenses allows Uber and Lyft to keep low prices and avoid the hassles and demands that arise from taxi operator associations and unions.