Uber says proposed regulations drafted by Cambridge city officials behind closed doors could threaten the existence of the app-based ride-sharing service.
In a blog post Monday night, Uber announced the company had learned the Cambridge Licensing Commission had drafted regulations “specifically designed” to shut down its services. “What’s more,” the company said in the blog post, “these regulations were drafted under the radar without seeking or considering the input of Cambridge residents.”
According to Uber, Cambridge regulations would:
- Set a $50 minimum price for any non-taxi car ride, regardless of time or distance
- Prohibit users from requesting a ride on-demand from anyone other than a taxi
- Forbid any technological device from being part of fare calculation during a ride
“For a city known for its innovation and progressiveness, it is shocking that Cambridge would cling so blindly to the past and ban an innovation that thousands of its residents and small businesses value and use on a daily basis,” Uber’s statement continued.
The Boston Business Journal reports, proposed rules would also address “licensing drivers who rely on smartphone apps,” as well as vehicle and wheel chair accessibility.
An Uber spokesperson told the BBJ on-demand taxis and pricier sedans would would not be impacted if the regulations pass.
The proposed regulations will be considered at a Cambridge License Commission hearing scheduled for Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in the basement conference room at the Michael J. Lombardi Building, 831 Massachusetts Avenue.
News of the proposed Cambridge regulations broke shortly after Seattle officials managed to strike a deal to legalize Uber, Lyft and Sidecar services in the West Coast city.
GeekWire reported on Monday that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a deal had been reached between “major industry players, the taxi industry and city officials” that will let app-based ridesharing services operate without imposing limits on the number of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar drivers on the road.
“We have deregulated a highly regulated monopoly,” Murray said, “allowing taxis and for-hires to become far more competitive than they are in the current situation. We are recognizing that a technology exists that is rapidly changing the marketplace.”
According to GeekWire, the following are key components of the Seattle agreement, which still has to be approved by the city council:
- Transportation Network Companies (Uber, Lyft, SideCar, etc.) and their drivers will be licensed and required to meet insurance requirements. All aspects of this industry will be required to carry insurance.
- For-hire drivers will have hailing rights for the first time.
- The city will provide 200 new taxi licenses over the next four years. Taxi and for-hire licenses will transition to a property right similar to a medallion in other cities.
- There will be no cap on the number of drivers for transportation network companies.
- Accessibility fund will be created through a 10 cent per ride surcharge for riders who will acquire accessible services.
The Seattle agreement comes in the wake of Uber cutting uberX fares by 25 percent in the city. This decision preceded an announcement last Friday by Uber that Boston uberX fares would similarly be reduced 25 percent for an indefinite period of time.
The BBJ notes that earlier this month, Colorado became the first state to authorize Lyft and Uber services.
Images via Uber