Is Uber's Ride Sharing Business Legal in Amarillo?

Is Uber's Ride Sharing Business Legal in Amarillo?

Tech Company says its Business Model Exempts them from City Code
AMARILLO -- Amarillo is now on board with a new ride-sharing program.  But, is it legal?

    That's something the city council is looking into.

    Uber operates much like a taxi service but, they're doing it without a permit from the city.

    Something other cab companies in town do not like.

    Taxi services are heavily regulated in Amarillo.  The city performs background checks on the companies and all drivers.
 
    They require liability insurance and records kept of all daily trips and fares.

    Right now, Uber drivers are not following these guidelines.

    The service works this way:  Customers use an App to hail the ride and even pay over their smartphone through an account set-up on their website.

    But, actual cab companies in the city say this isn't fair to them.

    They've done all the paperwork and jumped through hoops to get their permits and licenses, then have to watch another company come in and take some of their business without following the same rules.

    "They're not required to follow the rates.  They're not required to follow the licensing requirements of the city.  I'm not against people making money, but if you're going to run a cab service here in Amarillo, you need to go through the same regulations that the rest of us go through."  Said the owner of Yellow Cab of Amarillo owner Jim O'Malley.

    The General Manager of Expansion for Uber says their business model excludes them from the city's municipal code.

    Pooneet Kant said, "Drivers who are driving with Uber are everyday citizens of Amarillo.  They're driving their personal vehicles.  So it's really quite different from a professional taxicab driver."

    O'malley says the permit he received from the city is a guarantee from the city that he has been properly vetted.

    And while Uber drivers do not have the permits, Kant says all of their drivers undergo a background check.  As do their vehicles.

    The city says they're looking at the legalities of Uber's business model and plan to address it in the future.

    Uber started its operations in Amarillo last Wednesday.

    They're offering free rides in the city for the first two weeks.

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