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Dayton To Charge Fees To Uber, Other Transportation Service Companies

Uber has been criticized for competing with taxi cabs without being subject to the same regulation.
Al Fed
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Flickr/Creative Commons

The city of Dayton has unanimously amended its taxi and transportation ordinance to regulate Uber and other new transportation network services for the first time. UberX is an app-based ride service that’s been controversial in some cities in part because it competes with taxis, but isn’t regulated the same way.

“There’s no way to regulate these kinds of drivers because they look like your neighbor coming, or your son or your husband coming to pick you up,” said Sarah Spees, Dayton’s Airport Business Administrator. She says airports have been frustrated that they can’t charge fees to companies like Uber. “It’s been a huge concern in the airport world for about a year and a half now.”

Uber showed up in Dayton in late summer 2014, and it’s currently the only one of several growing technology-based transportation companies operating in the area. Mayor Nan Whaley says the city quickly reached out to figure out regulation. The ordinance will require companies to pay an annual fee of $8500 to the city and register all their drivers, and they’ll need to have a city tag, though it won’t have to be displayed.

“You know, most businesses would like no regulation whatsoever, but we have to have some regulation at the same time to protect our folks,” said Whaley after the bill passed unanimously at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Spees says the city reached out to Columbus, Cincinnati and Nashville to find out how they are dealing with the transportation networks, and found a good model in Nashville’s ordinance.

But Uber, which has generally opposed any regulation, isn't pleased with the changes. In a written statement, Uber spokesperson Lauren Altmin says "the ordinance passed today by the Dayton City Commission fails to recognize the inherent differences between Uber’s technology and existing transportation services, and the benefits innovation can bring to the residents of Dayton."

Uber has maintained that it’s not the same as a cab company because it’s just a platform to connect drivers to riders. Altmin says the business has been welcomed by consumers and city officials alike, but she hopes the ordinance will be updated at a later date. For its part, the city plans to revisit the transportation network regulations in one year to see how well they are working. No one spoke out about the new rules during the public comment period at Tuesday's City Commission meeting.

Other changes to the cab ordinance tighten up the rules about dress code, required taxi cars that are no more than eight years old, and require all cabs to accept credit cards and provide printed receipts.

Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.