You may have heard of Uber, the innovative taxi startup that’s faced legislative roadblocks in city after city as entrenched interests in bed with local politicians dig in their heels.Well once again Uber is in the news for upsetting the status quo, this time for introducing fuel efficient vehicles into its fleet of luxury sedans and SUVs and charging rates that are very competitive with regular cabs. What’s not to like about greener cabs at lower costs? If you’re a DC politician, it appears, everything:
“If those vehicles were used for this service, that would be essentially having an unregulated vehicle running against a taxi that is regulated. It just simply doesn’t make any sense,” said Neville Waters, a spokesman for the D.C. Taxicab Commission. The hybrid vehicles used by uberX drivers technically are not taxis because they do not have fare meters. Waters says the vehicles fail to meet the size requirements for sedans, too, so they are not eligible for the L Tag registration for limousines and sedans licensed in D.C.
It’s almost comical at this point—we say ‘almost’, because Uber may be shutting down its latest offerings due to the DC Taxicab Commission’s onerous rules. Needless to say, VM’s staffers in DC have used Uber on several occasions, and we all are quite fond of the service. We certainly hope that DC’s authorities see the light of day on this and come to some accommodation with the company. Protecting a moribund cartel like DC’s cabbies from honest competition serves no one’s interests in the long term.[Yellow taxi image courtesy of Shutterstock]