The District Council will vote tomorrow on a proposed amendment that would keep the Uber sedan service from lowering its rates to compete further with taxicabs. The amendment offered to the Taxicab Service Improvement Amendment Act of 2012 would set the minimum rate for the sedan service for hire to five times the drop rate for the District's taxicabs.
Uber are sedan cars for hire that can be ordered through a smartphone application.
As DCist explains, the sedan service is under the gun for its pricing:
"Uber's pricing model—a $7 base fare plus $3.25 for each mile traveled and 75 cents for each minute a car is hired—is out-of-sync with the DCTC's approved meter rates...".
Uber went directly to its users to push them to oppose the amendment, offered by Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh. In an email sent Tuesday, the sedan service called out at the District Council and asked Uber users to complain to their councilmembers:
"It was hard for us to believe that an elected body would choose to keep prices of a transportation service artificially high – but the goal is essentially to protect a taxi industry that has significant experience in influencing local politicians. They want to make sure there is no viable alternative to a taxi in Washington DC...".
A quick review of the "Uber Amendment" makes it clear that the goal is to separate the sedan car service from a standard taxicab:
- Sedans would be required to charge a minimum fare of 5 times the drop rate for taxicabs.
- Sedans would be required to charge time and distance rates that are greater as those for taxicabs.
- These requirements would ensure that sedan service is a premium class of service with a substantially higher cost that does not directly compete with or undercut taxicab service.
"Uber is seriously concerned about punitive government intervention in a well functioning marketplace," the company states in an email to users.
They provide contact information for each of the councilmembers and urge their customers to ask them to "strike down" the minimum fare language in the proposed amendment.
Patch asked our Facebook fans what they thought of the proposal.
One person commented, "I think it's appalling that the Council would even consider barring Uber from charging lower fares. Sounds like a bone to the taxi industry to keep them from protesting the potential changes."
Another agreed, "A little competition only benefits consumers."