Columbia to consider possible regulations for Uber

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COLUMBIA - The city manager will present proposed new regulations for Uber and other app-based taxi companies to the Columbia City Council on Monday. The city's presentation of the new regulations comes about a month after Uber began service in Columbia.

Two main points of the possible regulations include: Requiring Uber and other app-based taxi companies to pay a fee based on the number of drivers and have those who wish to drive for the company get a permit from the city. Uber's current regulations include filling out an application, going through a background check and showing proof of insurance and a driving record.

Taxi Terry's and other local taxi companies in Columbia met with the city in October to formulate the possible regulations for the company. Terry Nickerson Sr. is president of Taxi Terry's and said he suggested a few things to the mayor including: Having Uber drivers do background checks and have cars inspected by the city once a year, as well as have commercial insurance, things that other local taxi companies have to do in order to operate within Columbia.

Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said Uber does not support the proposed regulations as written. He said he has reminded the company multiple times that the regulation is not just for Uber but all app-based taxi companies. St. Romaine also said it has been a challenge gaining support from local taxi companies on the proposed regulations for the non-traditional taxi companies.

"I kind of get the real sense that there is no real consensus of how we should treat the Uber company," St. Romaine said. 

Nickerson said he doesn't think the city will really enforce the possible regulations.

"There is no one to enforce the rules the city set forth. For example, the city don't even enforce the rules on the small companies around town, so it's definitely not gonna enforce the rules on some multi, well-financed operation like Uber," Nickerson said.

The city's proposal says if a company doesn't follow the proposed regulations, the company could lose its permit as well as be chared with a misdemeanor for each day out of compliance. 

Although the arrival of Uber and other app-based taxi services means competition for the local taxi companies, Nickerson said he's looking forward to it, so long as the competition is on an even playing field. 

The proposed regulations will be presented to the city council on Monday and voted on by the city council on Monday, December 1.