New ordinance puts Uber’s KCMO future in doubt

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A new city law went into effect today that could mean transportation network company Uber could stop running in the metro.

An Uber representative told FOX 4 on Sunday the future of the company in Kansas City is still very much up in the air. A new city ordinance went into effect Sunday, but for now, it seems both sides are still trying to meet in the middle.

Vince Weston started driving with Uber last summer to help support his wife and two kids while he went back to school. He’s made an extra several hundred bucks a week, but with a new law that went into effect Sunday, he’s now afraid that cash flow will stop.

“I would like us to stay here. Just about everyone I’ve given a ride to wants us to stay here," said Weston. "There are a lot of people who really rely on Uber for income.”

Terry O’Toole of the Kansas City Transportation Group believes the new city law levels the playing field between companies like Uber and traditional taxi services like Yellow Cab and others.

“The city compromised, really worked through the political process," said O'Toole. "We do the same business. We pick people up at point a and take them to point.”

The new city law looks like this: transportation network companies like Uber and traditional taxi services will have to have the same type of insurance and background checks for drivers. Individual drivers will pay $250 which could go down to $100 if the parent company pays an annual fee of $40 thousand.

Uber’s position isn’t that it’s against regulations. A representative told FOX 4 the company wants “smart” regulations and that if a driver like a mom who wants a little extra money has to abide by the same laws as a driver who owns a limo service, driver supply will decrease, thus making it difficult for the company model to work.

Uber sent FOX 4 an emailed statement that reads: “The company is committed to finding a common ground that could secure Uber’s long-term future in Kansas City. Conversations with the mayor’s office are ongoing.”

Mayor Sly James says the change is about public safety and the idea the city is kicking Uber out is “garbage.”

For drivers like Weston, the continued talks bring optimism.

“It’s good to hear that both sides are willing to talk it out a little further," said Weston. "Hopefully come to some sort of agreement.”

Uber told Fox 4 its app will stay active even though law went into effect, however if a compromise isn’t reached, it could be as early as sometime this week that they’ll have to shut it down.

Lyft, another transportation company similar to Uber, suspended its Kansas City operations last October.

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