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Uber Asks For Support Before Maryland Regulators

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 8/6/2014, 12:00pm  ET

Uber DC, Flickr photo via MikeRidesharing app company Uber says Maryland state regulators are about to classify the service as a traditional transportation company, which “could threaten the Uber you know and love.”

Uber is fighting a proposal from the Maryland Public Service Commission to categorize it among the likes of the regulated taxi companies for which it competes for business.

But Uber, according to this official company blog post from “Jay,” is a technology company that doesn’t own vehicles or manage and control its drivers like a traditional taxi service:

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.

Uber, which is facing scrutiny from taxi companies and regulatory agencies around the country and world, said the proposed Maryland PSC order would be “the first of its kind in any state.” It asked supporters to email and call the five PSC commissioners and urge them not to categorize Uber as a common carrier.

It’s unclear when the proposal will come up. It’s not on the agendas for any of the PSC’s August meetings.

The PSC made the proposal in April and Uber appealed it in May. In other states, including Virginia, Uber and ridesharing competitor Lyft have been issued cease and desist letters.

Taxi companies, including Montgomery County-based Barwood, have argued Uber has an unfair competitive advantage because it isn’t subject to the same regulations. Barwood was one of five Maryland cab companies that filed suit in July against Uber, claiming the app-based car service is hampering its ability to do business.

Flickr photo via Mike