Startups

Uber appeals Public Service Commission ruling

The April ruling classified Uber as a common carrier subject to the same regulations as taxi companies.

Correction: The judge, Terry Romine, is a woman.

Uber has appealed an April Maryland Public Service Commission ruling that classified it as a common carrier, company officials announced Monday.
In the appeal, filed Friday, Uber officials claim that Uber is not a public service company and the commission does not have the authority to regulate it. It contends that Uber owns no vehicles used to transport passengers and does not itself transport passengers for money.
“Trying to regulate Uber as a common carrier is like trying to regulate Orbitz, an online travel booking platform, as an airline, simply because the company books flights out of BWI,” an official wrote in an Uber blog post. “For a weekend in 2013, Uber partnered with the city of Baltimore so that riders could access the city’s water taxis using the Uber app. If Uber is categorized as a common carrier, would this mean Uber is also a boat company?”
All Uber drivers are already screened by the Public Service Commission, according to the post.
Uber, which launched service in Annapolis in May, entered the Baltimore market last year. A bill that would have exempted Uber and competitor Lyft from common carrier regulations failed to pass in the 2014 General Assembly session.
“I find that, when a vehicle is registered with Uber to allow Uber to satisfy its on-demand dispatch service offering to its Users, the vehicle is ‘owned’ by Uber for the purposes of satisfying the requests for public transportation for hire,” Chief Public Utility Law Judge Terry Romine wrote in her April ruling. She ordered Uber to apply for a motor carrier permit.
The original case was brought against Uber by Baltimore-based Yellow Cab.

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