Monday, July 9, 2012

Uber in the District is at Risk

I rarely post on politics. In fact, never in DC This Week's 5 year tenure have I written on a political issue. But this one just caught my eye and I had to post. For those of you who don't know what Uber is:

1. Crawl out from under that rock 
2. You'll be pleased to know that Uber enables you to order a town car anywhere in the city at any time of the day for a fare that is slightly higher than a cab. Case in point. It costs me about $15 to get home from my office downtown to my house near Missouri and Rock Creek Park. For just $23 to $25 I can request an Uber via my iPhone, track the driver, pay via phone with my preloaded credit card, receive a receipt via text and email and relax in a clean car on the ride home. 

Today I learned that D.C. City Council will vote on an amendment that will eliminate Uber's ability to lower their fares and compete with taxis. As a homeowner of Ward 4 I take great pride in this city and efficient transportation options. The options are endless - WMATA,  ZipCar, Uber, Capitol Bike Share, taxis, good old walking or driving my car. There is not a more accessible city than D.C.

I've taken literally every method of transportation in this city and by far the most reliable and quick option is Uber. It's safe, efficient, reliable, clean and has adapted to modern times with technology and an outstanding smartphone APP.

I can not understand why the City Council would introduce an amendment to protect taxi cab drivers and favor their business. Taxis in D.C. are by far my least favorite option for commuting. I can list the reasons, but that isn't fare to all drivers who do not all fall into those categories. As a city we should allow  opportunity for all businesses, like Uber, to grow. Growth should also be a top priority for our city. Should the City Council pass this amendment they will stifle competition, dissuade businesses from coming to the District and stall the implementation affordable options for  residents. Below please find a note from Travis Kalanick Co-Founder and CEO of Uber. I encourage you readers who use Uber to act.

"Independence Day, Uber announced a roll out of a lower cost service that we call UberX. A less expensive Uber option on an all-hybrid fleet. We’re pretty excited about it and think it’s a great idea for cities across the country. What some of you probably noticed is that there was no roll out of this service in the District. That is because, only days earlier, the DC City Council informed us that they intended to pass an amendment to the taxi modernization bill that would make it illegal for Uber to lower its prices or to offer a low cost service in any form.

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. Consequently they are handicapping a reliable, high quality transportation alternative so that Uber cannot offer a high quality service at the best possible price. It was hard for us to believe that an elected body would choose to keep prices of a transportation service artificially high – but the goal is essentially to protect a taxi industry that has significant experience in influencing local politicians. They want to make sure there is no viable alternative to a taxi in Washington DC, and so on Tuesday (tomorrow!), the DC City Council is going to formalize that principle into law.
For obvious reasons, Uber is seriously concerned about punitive government intervention in a well functioning marketplace. Because of this we felt it was our responsibility to let our riders know about the issues at hand.

Take Action
If each of us writes or calls our DC Council people, we could make an impact on this law. What are we asking for?
Strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment.
Here are the City Council members’ contact info. Call/write as many of them as possible!
Keep the #UberDCLove alive.

To join the #UberDCLove activism team, click here."

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