Uber could soon be legal in Charleston

Uber could soon be legal in Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The popular ride-sharing company, Uber, could soon become legal in Charleston.

Right now there is no official ordinance to regulate the company, which allows anyone to request a ride using their smartphone. The company is operating in the city without a license and any of the company's drivers would face up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

"The city certainly appreciates the type of business and the enhancement that Uber makes to our transportation system," Police Chief Greg Mullen said.

At Tuesday Transportation and Tourism Committee meeting for city council, Mullen suggested copying an ordinance used in Minneapolis, which treats Uber cars not as limos, not as taxi cabs but as something in between called a transportation network company.

"When we started looking around to see what other cities may be regulating the Uber businesses, Minneapolis seemed to be very detailed, it seemed to have a lot of the components in it that our ordinances already have," Mullen said.

The ordinance wouldn't allow Uber to use taxi stands or set maximum fares like with cabs.

Uber has a $1 million insurance policy for its drivers while they're operating, but Chief Mullen suggests the city require more.

"What we want to make sure of is that there's also an Uber insurance policy in place to cover the vehicles as they are moving throughout the city not caring a client."

When reached for a comment, Uber said it is encouraged by the progress and hopes to find a permanent solution with city and state officials soon.

The state's public service commission is holding a hearing January 26 to decide how to regulate the company. Mullen says if it rules Uber is a limo or cab company, then the city would use the cab and limo rules already in place.

The Transportation and Tourism Committee asked the police department to come back to present an ordinance that would get a first reading at city council's next meeting on December 16.

Copyright WCSC 2014. All Rights Reserved.