The D.C. City Council backed off an effort to jack up the minimum fares on the smartphone-dispatched car livery service Uber, after an sudden outpouring of support on Twitter and e-mail that took Council Members by surprise.
Council Member Mary Cheh, a Democrat who represents Ward 3, removed an amendment to legislation designed to modernize the District's taxi fleet that would have set Uber's minimum starting rate to $15 -- five times the price of getting into an ordinary D.C. cab.
District regulators have long been at odds with Uber, which acts as a middleman between drivers and passengers, without actually owning a fleet of cars or employing drivers, operates in large North American metro areas including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto and Washington D.C. Currently, Uber employs drivers of upmarket sedans, but it recently announced plans to deploy hybrid cars as part of a lower priced service.
In January, Uber ran afoul of D.C.'s Taxi & Limousine Commission, which sets fares and licensing requirements for the District's cabs. Ron Linton, who leads the Taxi & Limousine Commission, personally took part in a sting in January that busted an Uber driver on a licensing infraction.
Ubers's fans, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who tweeted his support of the service early Monday evening, tout its reliability and promptness as compared to typical D.C. cabs, which are notoriously difficult to have dispatched to the District's far-flung neighborhoods.