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Taxis ask for strict rules for Uber

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Local,DC,Transportation,Liz Essley

Taxi drivers urged city administrators on Monday to create strict regulations for sedan drivers, including those working for the popular town car service Uber.

Drivers and taxi company owners told the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission that they fear Uber will put them out of business if the city does not impose fare regulations like it does on cabs.

"If the city allows sedans, that will depress the market for taxis," cab driver Negede Abebe told commissioners, saying that Uber fares should be five to seven times more expensive than taxis. "[Sedans] will make it difficult for an independent taxi driver to survive."

Uber launched in D.C. in last year but ran afoul of regulators, who said the company was following neither rules for taxis nor for limousines. Commission chairman Ron Linton is now working to draft regulations for companies like Uber, which allows users to reserve sedans and pay via an iPhone app.

Uber drivers spoke up for the company Monday, saying it helped provide extra income during periods of slow demand for limos.

"It makes a difference for us," said Uber driver Negash Shifraw, adding that he needed the extra income to make ends meet. "I have kids to raise."

Uber told the commission that it will accept basic regulations but wants to avoid burdensome rules or fare minimums.

"There are certain regulations that sedans need to have. And we intend to have those," said Uber's D.C. manager, Rachel Holt. "What we're not going to be OK with are regulations that are designed to pick winners and losers."

The commission doesn't have regulations drafted yet but is expected to vote on a proposal at its next meeting Sept. 19. Linton said he wants to make sure Uber tells users how much their ride will cost in advance. "It's going to fall on the commission to look at the market requirements, the market demands and attempt to develop a system that serves the market needs," he said.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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