Boise City Council members had three hours of questions this afternoon about how ride-sharing platform Uber would work – and be regulated by the city. In the end, the council voted unanimously to have an ordinance drafted for a public hearing by the end of next month.
Council members’ questions centered on making sure the public would be safe in the event of accidents or problems with drivers, that insurance coverage would be adequate without being unfair to either Uber drivers or taxi drivers, and that licenses, inspections and fees were in line with how other limousine and cab services are governed by the city.
Council member Lauren McLean noted that a ‘yes’ vote today did not necessarily mean that members would support the ordinance in its final stages.
The session came after one earlier this month at which council members said they had too many questions on whether to allow the San Francisco-based company, which operates globally, to charge customers in Boise. The company has been providing rides in the area since October but is prevented from charging until the council decides how to regulate Uber’s activities.
One issue has been how its drivers, who are essentially independent contractors, could be subject to licensing and safety scrutiny in ways that protect passengers. Taxi companies have also opposed Uber, seeing the competition as unfair.
However, under the ordinance the council directed be drafted, Uber drivers will comply with the same rules that govern taxi drivers, and taxi drivers will be allowed to use the Uber platform as well, if they choose.
Uber works as a downloadable app that allows customers, who must register, to request rides via their smartphones rather than go to a curb and attempt to hail a cab. In addition, customers pay with their credit card through the app rather than exchanging cash with the driver.
Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio