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The firm's entry into more than 20 U.S. cities has sparked lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters from taxi owners concerned for their livelihoods and regulators accusing the firm of skirting the law. Uber says it is merely a broker between riders and drivers, using a smartphone app to make getting a ride more efficient.
Uber must seek a change in ordinance for its business model to work in
The service the
Drivers who want to participate are given smartphones with the Uber app installed, said company spokeswoman
"I don't think taxis in
Uber wants to drop the minimum fare for a sedan ride in
"City government has decided, 'In Houston you're allowed to get a quality ride, but it'd be bad for you to get it quickly; we need to make sure that doesn't happen because chaos would ensue,'" Kalanick said. "That's a little tongue-in-cheek, but the point is, that is a law designed to ensure there is no alternative to taxis. There is no way to get a nice ride quickly in the city of
"Obviously, we want to encourage innovation and smart, new ideas. We just need to make sure we do it in a smart way, and our most important consideration is always going to be the safety of the riding public," Newport said.
Yellow Cab CEO
Martinez, whose Yellow Cab and affiliated companies field 1,400 vehicles, said Uber's service will skim the best trips in the city, hurting the taxi industry and curtailing its ability to give rides to the poor or disabled.
"We don't understand why Uber would want to change existing law instead of just operating under current ordinance just like all of us have been doing for years," Martinez said. "It's unfair for them to come in the market and say, 'Now we're going to get rid of all these rules and regulations so we can get into the market.'"
Lobbyists go to work
Yellow Cab affiliate
"Every place they go, they say, 'We're only going to use established, licensed operators; we're clean as choir boys.' And as time goes on they start using anybody with a pulse and a running vehicle," Jordan said. "If there's an issue with the city or a ripped-off client, where are you going to go? You going to go complain to a website? It'd be chaos if they let Uber come in."
Hourdajian said UberBLACK works exclusively with licensed drivers and said Uber brings more accountability to the process by requiring drivers and riders to rate each other and by giving riders detailed information about each trip.
"There's a hole there, and there have been various people trying to fill it with jitneys and EcoCabs. The taxis have gone after all of them. As long as there's a hole, there's going to be an economic push to fill it," she said. Ebrima Loppy, a licensed sedan driver in
"I think it's a very good idea.," he said. "The way I understand it works, it's very consistent. You don't have to wait in line for an hour or two hours or three hours waiting on a customer. It's whoever is available and around."
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