New Documentary Covers Uber and D.C. Taxi Group Battle

Posted on October 23, 2013 by

Reason Magazine is putting together a short series chronicling the history of Uber’s break into Washington D.C.

“Does LCT get advertising dollars from Uber?” is a question I’ve been asked by a few operators. It’s directed at LCT’s coverage of Uber as it rolls out to more and more cities across the country and comes up with new tech programs to split fares or hail new rides.

The answer: Of course not. But like it or not, Uber is changing the face of ground transportation, and while there are legitimate regulatory and fairness concerns, the technologic concepts behind Uber are here to stay.

The idea is not to promote Uber but to keep tabs on it as it becomes the subject of legislation. Reason Magazine, which has offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and markets itself as a defender of “free market, and free thinking,” has put together the first segment in an ongoing documentary about Uber and its move to operate in the Washington D.C. area.

The film runs about 11 minutes long, and it features interviews with Taxicab Commissioner Ron Linton, Councilmembers Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), and the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis.

It shows how the D.C. Taxicab Commission tried to impose regulations on Uber that would have hampered its business, such as requiring a minimum fare of $15 and a weight requirement on sedans that excludes most hybrid models (effectively negating UberX’s ability to operate). But the film does a good job of showing that these requirements also can be seen as the Taxi Commission simply doing its job — trying to protect their industry’s viability.
And it also shows how Uber isn’t a blameless victim, and that it circumvented traditional protocols and regulations to move forward.
No matter how you feel about Uber, whether you think it’s a product of the free market regulating itself, or a nefarious money-making scheme bent on a power-grab, the important thing for everyone is to stay informed.

— Tim Crowley, LCT senior editor

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