Richard D. Holcomb, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Moto Vehicles, issued a cease and desist letter to app-based ridesharing services Uber and Lyft.
The services allow users to call a driver directly to their location using only an app on their smartphones. Furthermore, users are charged through the app, negating the need for dealing with cash.
While the services are convenient, they are adversely affecting the taxi cab industry. While taxi cab drivers have to pay for special licenses and renew them every year, the drivers for the ridesharing services only need a basic driver’s license. Furthermore, taxi cabs have a fixed rate, whereas Uber and others charge more or less according to demand.
With such differences in prices, the taxi cab industry is struggling to keep up. Many argue that it isn’t fair that the ridesharing services are not held to the same standards as the taxi industry, since they essentially serve the same purpose. The services claim that “they are not transportation companies but rather go-betweens that link drivers who have vehicles with customers who need a ride,” according to the Washington Post.
Virginia legislatures don’t accept that definition. Holcomb’s cease and desist letters emphasized that Uber and Lyft could not continue operating in the state of Virginia until they obtained the proper permits. Within the past year, the state has fined the services more than $35,000 in civil penalties for operating without proper authority, according to the Washington Post.
Both Uber and Lyft responded to the cease and desist letter expressing shock that state legislatures would disapprove of their behaviors and declaring that they would continue to operate in the state.