Uber Prevails As D.C. Council Passes New Vehicles-For-Hire Law | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Uber Prevails As D.C. Council Passes New Vehicles-For-Hire Law

Play associated audio
Uber puts customers in contact with a fleet of towncars using a smartphone application of iOS and Android phones.
Chris Chester
Uber puts customers in contact with a fleet of towncars using a smartphone application of iOS and Android phones.

The battle between Uber and the District of Columbia is over.

After clashing for months over how to regulate the sedan car service that customers order using a smartphone app, the D.C. Council  approved to legislation [PDF] Tuesday creating a sedan class of vehicles-for-hire separate from taxis. 

The bill will allow Uber to charge its customers fares based on distance and time as "digital dispatch" vehicles. Uber's black sedans are not hailed on the street; customers use the Uber smartphone application to order a car to their location using the phone's GPS and pay with a registered credit card number. 

While D.C.'s taxicab industry has been slow to modernize, Uber offers an innovative service that, while more expensive that a regular taxi, has become popular among residents looking for a stylish ride to the airport or to home after a night on the town. The company's victory in negotiating with D.C. lawmakers could have implications for its other service areas; Uber has gone back and forth with regulators in Massachusetts and now New York over the legality of it business model.

"Today was a fantastic victory for Uber but also for innovation, for our consumers here, and the drivers that partner with us," said Rachel Holt, Uber's general manager in the District, after the vote. She thanked her customers for helping convince the council as well as the District's taxicab commissioner to back away from a previous proposed law that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick described as ranging "from the draconian to the inane."

"It's not about anything we did or won. I think what really won was that the fact that we have a passionate consumer base here," Holt said.  

Over the past several months, Uber customers flooded Council members with complaints about proposals that threatened the company's business model. 

Once the heated rhetoric quieted down, both sides compromised. The new legislation requires greater pricing transparency on Uber's part.

NPR

Ruth Rendell Dies, Pioneered The Psychological Thriller

The British mystery writer was known for her Inspector Wexford series and in her later years became active in Labour Party politics. NPR's Petra Mayer has this remembrance.
NPR

'Bourbon Empire' Reveals The Smoke And Mirrors Of American Whiskey

A new book suggests that tall tales on craft bourbon labels are the rule rather than the exception. They're just one example of a slew of "carefully cultivated myths" created by the bourbon industry.
NPR

Site Using Candidate Carly Fiorina's Name Attacks Her Record At HP

The site, carlyfiorina.org, says the Republican presidential candidate laid off 30,000 people while she ran Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina does not deny the figure but says, overall, the firm created jobs.
NPR

As Emoji Spread Beyond Texts, Many Remain [Confounded Face] [Interrobang]

There's a growing tendency to bring the tiny hieroglyphs off of phones, but not everyone is fluent. New takes on emoji integration suggest misunderstanding may be remedied with universal translation.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.