Uber Fights Washington--and Wins (For Now)
Washington, D.C., took on car service start-up Uber on Tuesday and the little guy won... for now.
The Internet was abuzz Tuesday morning as the Washington D.C. City Council was set to approve an amendment to its taxi legislation that would force private car companies like Uber to charge its customers at least five times the minimum price of a city taxi.
The San Francisco-based car service has been operating in D.C. since December and operates as a more expensive option to the city’s taxi services. However, the company’s recent announcement of a less expensive service called UberX caused a stir among taxi cab services in the area, prompting the D.C. City Council to react with the so-called “Uber Amendment” written by councilwoman Mary Cheh.
Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick wrote an open letter on the company blog to the council urging them to reconsider the amendment. For, Kalanick says, while UberX will provide a comparable charge to other taxi services, it is also creating jobs, providing a service, and aiding the area’s economy.
“Uber has created hundreds of driver jobs in the District,” Kalanick wrote. “Jobs that the District needs, and jobs that require high performance where drivers do far better because of great prices driven by Uber’s logistics technologies. Why protect one small business owner at the severe expense of another?”
With backlash coming from online stories by The Atlantic and TechCrunch and also from Uber users themselves on social media sites, Cheh announced that she would shelve the amendment. Sources say it could return in September as a separate bill.