Virginia officials order Uber, Lyft to stop operating in the state

The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Uber, a startup that lets drivers pick up passengers with their personal cars and that was valued at $3.5 billion in a funding round last year, has raised $307 million from a group of backers that include Google Ventures, Google Inc.'s investment arm, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Uber, a startup that lets drivers pick up passengers with their personal cars and that was valued at $3.5 billion in a funding round last year, has raised $307 million from a group of backers that include Google Ventures, Google Inc.’s investment arm, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

This post has been updated.

The war between app-based ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft and the state of Virginia  is escalating.

Earlier this year, Virginia officials slapped the app-based services with more than $35,000 in civil penalties for operating with out proper permits. On Thursday, Richard D. Holcomb, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 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,” Holcomb said in the letter. (You can see copies of both letters below)

Officials at both companies said they will continue to operate in the state, despite Thursday’s order.

“We’ve reviewed state transportation codes and believe we are following the applicable rules,” Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in an e-mailed statement. “We’ll continue normal operations as we work to make policy progress.

She added that: “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. As many of the current regulations surrounding taxis and limos were created before anything like Lyft’s peer-to-peer model was ever imagined, we’re committed to continuing to work with state officials to craft new rules for this new industry. We truly believe that if we approach situations like this positively and collaboratively, we can work together with local leaders to greatly improve transportation access, safety and affordability.”

Even though Holcomb noted in his letter that the department has been warning Uber about the state’s rules for more than six months, a spokesperson for the company called the state’s actions, “shocking and unexpected.”

“Uber has been providing Virginians with safe, affordable and reliable transportation options for months and has continued to work in good faith with the DMV to create a regulatory framework for ridesharing,” Taylor Bennett wrote in an emailed response. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Virginia DMV to find a permanent home for ridesharing in the Commonwealth.”

With its action, Virginia joins a growing number of states that have banned or sought to limit the app-based services from operating. In Maryland, Uber is currently appealing a decision by the state’s chief public utility law judge that said it must file an application to operate as a for-hire carrier.

The companies however, have found a much warmer reception in the District, where the D.C. Council is considering legislation that would allow them to operate as long as they follow certain requirements.

The letter sent to Lyft:

Lyft Cease and Desist

And Uber:

Uber Cease and Desist by Lori Aratani

 

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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