from the if-we-can't-tax-it-you-can't-do-it dept.
Earlier this year, Virginia officials slapped app-based ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft with more than $35,000 in civil penalties for operating with out proper permits. Now the Washington Post reports that Richard D. Holcomb, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, has sent a cease and desist letter to both companies. "I am once again making clear that Uber must cease and desist operating in Virginia until it obtains proper authority," says Holcomb in his letter.
Officials at both companies say they will continue to operate in the state, despite the order. "We've reviewed state transportation codes and believe we are following the applicable rules," says Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson. "We'll continue normal operations as we work to make policy progress. Virginia residents have enthusiastically embraced Lyft as an affordable and reliable transportation alternative that increases safety by going above and beyond what is required by existing transportation services." ""People like this service, they always say it's better than cab," says Fateh El-Ja-Rarri, an UberX driver who adds that Virginia should be praising the app-based service for creating jobs and not trying to shut drivers like himself down.
Using mobile apps to connect passengers with part-time drivers of private cars, oftentimes for less than the cost of a traditional taxi or car service, both companies have grown in popularity in recent years and expanded to cities around the US and world. Lyft, which launched in 2012, operates in 60 US cities while Uber's four-year-old service has a presence in 35 countries and more than 100 cities. But those journeys have not been without regulatory roadblocks. Resistance to the model has been particularly heated in New York, where taxi officials initially stopped Uber and other car hailing apps from entering the market. Uber was able to prevail in New York City and now runs its peer-to-peer service using drivers who are licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.