Last week, rideshare company Uber vented on its blog
about the city of Orlando's new ridesharing rules, which are scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 1.
Orlando and Uber have a pretty rocky relationship – shortly after the company started offering rides to people here, the Orlando police launched a sting operation in which it arrested drivers and impounded their cars for violating the local vehicle-for-hire laws. Late last year, the City Council had long, heated discussions about Uber and its operation in Orlando, and at one point city leaders suggested forcing the company to charge minimum fares that would make ridesharing significantly more expensive than the average taxicab.
Finally, though, Orlando agreed to charge Uber drivers $250 to obtain permits to drive in the city and require Uber to charge a minimum fare equivalent to that charged by taxis: $2.40.
It seemed for a while that everybody was grudgingly accepting the city's new rules, but on Jan. 14, Uber's blog
lambasting Orlando for "threatening our ability to provide access to safe, low-cost rides and economic opportunity for the people of Orlando."
Them's fighting words!
Uber says that Orlando's the only city in the country that wants to force Uber to adopt minimum fares, which Uber says is bad for business because it basically makes the service less valuable and appealing to customers. The way Uber works is by volume – and to get that volume, it lures people in with super-low fares that cab drivers can't charge, even if they wanted to, due to minimum-fare laws.
Uber also doesn't like the city's proposed permitting process. Rather than having drivers pay individual fees for themselves, Uber wants the city to charge the company one lump sum that'll cover everyone, so the company can pick up the tab for drivers.
Uber calls the new ordinance "a fatal blow to the Transportation Network Companies business model and is way out of step with all other TNC regulations across the country."
There's no clear indication what Uber plans to do about that, but we have a feeling it's not going to give up this market without a little more fight.