Uber has been officially launched in Baltimore city for just over a week, but already the legal challenges are coming.
“Century-old Yellow Cab filed a challenge with the Maryland Public Service Commission, contending that Uber should not be allowed to operate here until it complies with the same safety and insurance regulations as traditional taxi and limo companies,” according to the Baltimore Sun. The case is scheduled to be heard Wednesday.
Riders use Uber by hailing for a private car via smartphone app. The startup itself doesn’t own the cars or employ the drivers, but rather draws drivers from existing limo companies or independent drivers with their own cars. It’s an approach that has gotten Uber in hot water in New York City, Denver and Washington, D.C. Last December, however, D.C.’s city council passed a “Public Vehicle-for-Hire Innovation Amendment Act” that sanctions the operations of Uber and startups like it.
No such dice thus far in Maryland. From the Sun:
“They play on an unlevel playing field. They don’t play by the regulatory rules,” said Mark Joseph, CEO and vice chairman of Veolia Transportation, parent of Yellow Cab. “We know Uber very well. They are great for rich people. They are great at skimming the cream off the top.”