Uber and Maryland regulators have come to an agreement that would allow UberBlack and UberSUV to operate legally in the state.
The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) announced the settlement agreement on Tuesday. (See the PDF below).
If formally approved by the PSC, it would mean the app-based ride company would have to identify all UberBlack and UberSUV drivers for the state.
It would also have to publish a schedule of its times, rates and charges (which would likely include maximum and minimum rates plus surge pricing) on a website that would be available to the public.
UberBlack and UberSUV would be allowed to use only drivers who have Maryland passenger-for-hire driver’s licenses and vehicles that have Maryland operating permits, though drivers licensed in D.C. or Virginia would be allowed to take passengers from those neighboring jurisdictions into Maryland.
The settlement comes after an August decision by the PSC that UberBlack and UberSUV should be classified as part of a traditional transportation company. That means Uber should be subject to the same state laws that other non-taxicab transportation for hire services are.
That decision and the settlement announced Tuesday don’t apply to UberX or UberXL.
Before the August decision, Uber lobbied users in the state to ask the PSC not to make the classification:
We consistently hear from drivers that the best part about partnering with Uber is the flexibility we provide: drivers have complete control over their businesses and schedules. The PSC’s proposed order would mean that Uber’s partner drivers can no longer own and operate independent companies; it would eliminate opportunities for residents to start their own businesses, make a living, and contribute to the economy.
If the PSC approves the settlement, Uber would also dismiss its appeal against the PSC in the state’s Court of Special Appeals relating to a decision from last year.
Proposed legislation in front of the County Council would impose license, background check and insurance requirements for Uber services, but wouldn’t limit fares or rates except in the case of a snow emergency.
Montgomery County strictly regulates the rates of the five licensed taxicab companies that operate within its borders, which has led to ongoing protests from major county cab companies such as Barwood.
Flickr photo via Mike