Barwood Taxi Boss: Uber Is ‘Hitting Below The Belt’

Barwood Taxi banner, via Barwood

Montgomery County’s Barwood Taxi is continuing its public relations push against ridesharing services such as Uber.

Barwood Presdient Lee Barnes penned a letter-to-the-editor in last week’s The Gazette claiming that Uber has an unfair business advantage because it doesn’t yet have to comply by many of the same state taxi regulations that Barwood does.

Barnes went on to write that competing against an unregulated Uber is exactly like a boxing match in which one fighter “has his hands tied behind his back and the other can do whatever he wants, even hitting below the belt.”

Barwood joined with other Maryland taxi companies in July to sue  Uber, claiming the app-based car service is hampering its ability to do business.

Barnes also wrote that it’s clear to him Uber is a taxi service:

Uber falsely claims that regulation stifles innovation. But Barwood’s technology innovations have taken place under stringent state and local regulations governing the for-hire transportation industry. Our vehicles must be inspected multiple times each year. The government decides who is best qualified to drive taxis safely, based on a series of criteria. The fares we charge passengers are regulated and we’re required to carry appropriate levels of commercial liability insurance to protect passengers. These are just some of the rules Uber refuses to follow.

We welcome the competition from Uber. But fair competition is impossible when companies like Uber don’t play by the rules. Just like Barwood, Uber transports passengers for a fee. They are a taxi service.

Changes to the way the state regulates Uber might be on the immediate horizon.

On Aug. 6, state regulators ruled that Uber should be subject to the same state laws that other non-taxicab transportation for hire services are. The decision from the Public Service Commission meant that Uber must apply for a motor carrier permit for its UberBLACK and UberSUV services within 60 days. UberX and Lyft were not part of the decision.

The order also directed PSC staff to draft regulations for non-taxicab, for-hire transportation services such as Uber and Lyft within 90 days.

“I applaud the Maryland Public Service Commission’s recent ruling that Uber is indeed a “common carrier.” While this is a step in the right direction, we still have to wait and see how, if at all, the state and local jurisdictions will actually regulate Uber,” Barnes wrote in his The Gazette letter.

The Gazette: Without regulation, fair competition is impossible

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