Tallahassee Journal

Uber cleared to operate in South Carolina

Uber cleared to operate in South Carolina

The app-based car ride service Uber is legal in South Carolina — for now — after state regulators Thursday granted the Silicon Valley-based company a temporary license to operate. The state Public Service Commission faced intense criticism from Gov. Nikki Haley and state legislators when the regulatory body ordered Uber earlier this month to cease its ride-booking operation. The new order allows Uber’s contract drivers to provide service until June 30, when presumably state legislators will have passed a law defining how the novel business model can be regulated.

The Uber service operates through a cellphone app where registered users can request a ride from a driver registered through the company. The app alerts the closest drivers, who can choose to accept the request or not, and service is paid through a valid credit card. Despite the commission’s order earlier this month, Uber drivers continued to operate throughout the state, asMarco Rubio Speech On Innovation At Uber's DC Offices law enforcement struggled with how to enforce the commission’s order to cease operation.

In July, Uber began its UberX service in Greenville, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, but it did so without a license similar to what is required of taxi and limousine drivers. The company has been forced to challenge cease and desist orders in other states, such as in Oregon and California, as its disruptive technology challenges the traditional taxi cab business model. “The commission desires appropriate regulation that accommodates and fosters new innovations to ensure that South Carolinians have choices, while always ensuring that we protect the safety of the people of our state,” the commission wrote in its Thursday order.

The taxi and limousine industry in the state objected to Uber’s contention that it is merely a technology company that links drivers with passengers. According to PSC documents, the industry cited concerns that Uber drivers don’t have to abide by restrictions that hold them liable, ensure safety and provide service for the disabled.

Uber representatives in South Carolina argued that drivers are subject to rigorous background checks. The app displays a picture of the driver for a user, and rides are insured up to $1 million in South Carolina through policies provided by Uber. The commission’s decision Thursday followed a joint request by Rasier and Checker Yellow Cab Co. to allow the provision, in effect halting Uber’s request for a special exception that asked that it be classified under the new category of “transportation network company.”

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