Standing room only for city's first hearing on legalizing Uber

Standing room only for city's first hearing on legalizing Uber

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - When Charleston's Transportation Committee held it's first public hearing on Uber Tuesday, so many people showed up to speak and others just to listen, that some people had to stand and others were forced to wait outside.

The transportation went back and forth allowing both sides share their opinions and allowed about 20 people to speak before running out of time.

Councilman Mike Seekings said during the hearing that it's not a matter of if, but how ride sharing will become legal.

Many speakers said their biggest issue is if Uber, which allows anyone to request a ride using their smart phone, is to be legal, then the city's ordinance should make sure cabs, limos and Uber are treated equally.

"Think about it this way, the same ride one driver gets $10 dollars, another driver gets $100," Jerry Crosby, the Vice President of Yellow Cab said. "That's not fair. As long as we have a level playing field, we'll be ok with this."

Crosby said he thinks price surging, which is when Uber raises its rates when it has high demand, should be allowed for both cabs and Uber, but that it should be capped or it'll become price gouging.

"I think you have to look at this as a distinctly different business model," Dave Barmore, a Public Policy Associate for Uber said. "We're not against regulation. We're for regulations that make sense considering this is a new technology."

Right now, Uber is still illegal in the city and drivers can be fined up to $1,000 and face 30 days in jail, but the Charleston Police Department said so far no Uber drivers have been cited for driving illegally.

South Carolina's Public Safety Commission will meet on January 26 to set its own rules for Uber, but those will only overrule the city's ordinance if an Uber ride goes from Charleston to another city.

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