Operations

Columbus, Ohio Latest City To Scrutinize Uber

Posted on October 9, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Luxury-car drivers who find customers using a new app-based dispatching service could lose their local operating licenses if they’re caught.

San Francisco-based Uber launched its Uber Black app in Columbus last week. The app links customers with black-car drivers. Customers using the app register a credit card that is charged after the ride is finished.

But a nuance in Columbus’ city code outlaws livery drivers from operating in an on-demand capacity similar to that of taxicabs. Limos and luxury vehicle trips must be contracted ahead of time for a specific amount of time, while a cab can be hailed on the spot.

By finding customers using Uber Black, livery drivers would violate city code, said Amanda Ford, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Safety. Columbus has 125 licensed livery drivers.

“Until we at least have a verbal agreement on how we’re going to move forward, we prefer they don’t operate outside of their codes,” she said. “They risk losing their license.”

A city official would have to witness the livery driver picking up a customer to prove that he or she is operating outside the law, said license officer Glenn Rutter.

The city had been working with an Uber attorney to figure out which code changes were needed to allow the company to operate here. Company representatives attended a Sept. 27 Vehicle for Hire Board subcommittee meeting, during which regulation of ridesharing companies was discussed.

For the full story, go to the Columbus Dispatch

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