Late yesterday, in an email to their customers, Uber’s DC operations group sounded the alarm about the Taxicab Modernization Act that is before the Council today. The email read, in part, “The Council’s intention is to prevent Uber from being a viable alternative to taxis by enacting a price floor to set Uber’s minimum fare at today’s rates and no less than 5 times a taxi’s minimum fare.” The language that has Uber riled up here has to do with a new class of taxi service in DC, the sort that Uber provides.
The new sedan service is designed to build a place for companies like Uber to operate free from intervention from the DC Taxicab Commission’s regulations, which would require the cars have metering systems, GPS tracking, and those godawful advertising systems like you see in New York Cabs, amongst other things. So long as they were to abide by an initial minimum fare that was 5 times the minimum fare of the taxi system, Uber would get to stand free and clear of the taxi system.
One small problem. Uber wants to charge less than their current $15 minimum for their new UberX service which is designed to send less luxurious vehicles (hybrid cars, in fact) to pick you up throughout the city. This new law would torpedo their plans to charge customers less for the new hybrid service.