Uber is a California software company that crowd sources drivers with private cars to provide rides to consumers. Consumers can order rides via an app by inserting their current location and their destination.
The company has been heavily protested by taxi companies and governments around the world that are concerned about the unlicensed nature of the private drivers used by Uber.
The legal battle has now come to Kansas City, Missouri. Uber is threatening to leave the city if a ride-sharing ordinance passes. The ordinance, still in the drafting stage, will make it difficult for Uber to continue to operate in the city.
The ordinance will be considered by the Kansas City Council. The proposed ordinance would require all vehicles for hire, including Uber cars, to pay $280 to get a permit, business license and medical check. Uber has been attempting to argue that these safeguards are already in place.
The company’s city representative has stated background checks are already mandatory. Neither Uber drivers nor company officials are pleased with the additional costs or heightened regulations. Surveyed drivers say they are likely to quit, especially if they don’t have the money to comply with the proposed regulations.
This is not an issue unique to Kansas City. Other American cities, including San Antonio, Texas, Anchorage, Alaska and Boise, Idaho, are all considering similar ordinances.
Mayor Sly James has said that he welcomes Uber’s presence in the city, but that Uber must comply with the rules. The transportation committee meeting will be convened at City Hall on March 26 to discuss the ordinance.
As local attorneys, we have been in the community for decades and we have witnessed vast changes sweep across Kansas City, Missouri. We are confident that the city and the state will be able to adapt to how rapidly changing technology can reorganize services.
At the end of the day, the goal is to keep passengers, drivers and motorists safe, while allowing are city to embrace new technologies.