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New OKC rules coming for Uber ride-for-hire service?

Police pledge to begin ticketing Uber vehicles parked in reserved taxi spaces.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: January 29, 2014
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Despite protests from taxi operators and the members of the city's Traffic and Transportation Commission, the San Francisco company that coordinates ride-for-hire drivers through online transactions will continue to be excused from Oklahoma City cab regulations through this spring.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Brian Williford, who works with the traffic commission, reported that Uber drivers will however face ticketing if they continue to use reserved taxi parking spaces.

Roger Andrews, general manager of Oklahoma City's Yellow Cab, reported a spot reserved for taxi drivers was recently used by an Uber driver. Taxi drivers are ticketed if they park in metered spots, and are restricted to the taxi spots taken by the Uber driver.

“Was he written a ticket?” Andrews asked. “No, he was not. He was asked to leave, but not ticketed. I don't understand why the city says everybody else has to abide by these ordinances, but these people from San Francisco, Germany and the Netherlands come in and they don't have to follow the law.”

Williford responded that police have been advised not to ticket Uber drivers until city attorneys work with city staff on a potential ordinance change that will be submitted to the Oklahoma City Council in April.

He said the officers who excused the Uber driver from a ticket for using a reserved taxi spot were unfamiliar with issues surrounding the operation.

“In the future, we will enforce and write a ticket in that situation whether they are Uber or not,” Williford said.

Pooneet Kant, who is based in Chicago but also rents space at a co-working collaborative along Oklahoma City's Film Row, responded that his company doesn't promote or discourage drivers from using taxi spots.

“I appreciate that if these are taxi spots, Uber is not a taxi company,” Kant said. “The drivers do not work for Uber. They are using our technology. We don't control the partners who drive in our system, when they want to drive, whether they accept rides, it's at their discretion.”

Kant said Uber is enjoying a thriving business since it launched in Oklahoma City, but he declined to disclose any details about ridership or complaints.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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About Uber:

Uber recruits local drivers willing to use their vehicles to provide ride-for-hire services to customers who summon and pay for rides through the smartphone app.

The issue is whether Uber and companies like it are required to meet the same licensing requirements as traditional ride-for-hire companies. In the Uber app's service agreement with customers, the company contends it is a technology company with an app and not a transportation service.

The company contends it acts only as an intermediary to link customers with transportation providers, even though Uber collects credit card information from customers that is kept on file and used to pay for rides. Uber retains a percentage of the fares. Uber drivers do not use marked cars or register with the city, while traditional ride-for-hire taxi drivers are subject to extra inspections, fees, insurance requirements and registration. The New York Times recently reported Uber has operations in 60 cities and is valued at $4 billion.

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