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The City Wants Uber, the On-Demand Private Driver App, to Get a Taxi Permit or Shut Down

Update on January 7.: Uber's Dallas GM, Leandre Johns, says the company's attorneys have looked into the matter and determined that its operation in the city is "completely legal." His full statement is below.

Uber, the on-demand private-driver startup, was stirring controversy even before it launched in Dallas last fall.

Local cab and limousine companies in particular were wary of the new competition, particularly since Uber considers itself a technology company and tends to ignore the onerous and costly regulations applied to traditional transportation providers.

"We don't own the cars. We don't employ drivers," Uber chief exeuctive Travis Kalanick told the Dallas Business Journal. "We partner with the small businesses in the city."

That distinction is a bit too fine for the city of Dallas, which has sent Uber a letter kindly asking the company to cut it out.

"We understand that Uber is currently offering transportation services via luxury vehicles with private drivers in Dallas," assistant city attorney Christopher Bowers wrote, noting that Uber's business seems to fall squarely within the city's definition of a taxi or limousine service.

"Please confirm that Uber will cease providing taxicab service or limousine service in the City until it has obtained appropriate operating authority and is in full compliance with applicable regulations," the letter concludes.

I have an email out to Uber's press people. They haven't responded yet, but the company has shown in the past that it's not shy about battling with cities over regulations and whether they do or do not apply to Uber. Here's betting Dallas won't be shy either as it eyes Uber and sees lost licensing revenue. And cabbies are still pissed, too.

Uber's response:

The use of Uber's technology in Dallas is completely legal. The regulations cited by the City apply to limousine companies. Uber does not provide transportation, own vehicles or employ drivers. Our technology simply connects people seeking rides with licensed transportation providers. Our counsel has looked into the issues raised and we believe that the service we offer is in compliance with the cited regulations.

Uber is a cutting edge transportation technology and generally, the regulations from regulatory bodies have not been written with these innovations in mind. As such, we are happy to meet with the City of Dallas to discuss this new generation of technology and work closely with the City to ensure compliance and keep our service available for our customers and driver partners.

Our commitment is to facilitate an improved transportation option that provides safe, reliable, and convenient travel. That will not change.


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