Uber mobilizes its users to fight ban in Virginia


The Uber driver app on the windshield of UberX driver Regan Rucker, indicates surge pricing during peak ridership on April 4 in Washington. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

If you’re an Uber customer and a Virginia resident, chances are there’s an urgent message from the company in your inbox.

On Thursday, after more than six months of back-and-forth, Virginia officials ordered the app-based ride-sharing company to cease operating in the state because it is in violation of current rules governing such services.

Uber officials (as well as those with Lyft), however, said they will continue to operate because the rules cited by officials with Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles don’t apply to them.

Now they are urging customers to lobby on their behalf.

In an e-mail titled, “Our Commitment to Virginia,” Uber is asking users to call, write or tweet Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state officials on the company’s behalf:

Hey [Uber user]

You may have heard that Uber received a cease and desist letter from the Virginia DMV yesterday. We wanted to write to let you know that Uber will operate as usual, and we plan to continue full-speed ahead with our commitment to providing Virginians access to safe, affordable and reliable rides. We are surprised and disappointed by the DMV’s actions, given that Uber has been working with the Virginia government for months to modernize regulations that will put consumer safety first. Virginia should be standing for innovation, consumer choice and job growth.

Uber has set the standard for consumer safety in the Commonwealth. All uberX rides in Virginia are insured up to $1,000,000, nearly 300% more than the $350,000 required of for-hire drivers by the Virginia DMV. While the Virginia DMV does not require that all for-hire drivers pass background checks, all drivers on the Uber platform pass rigorous background checks at the county, state and federal level before they are ever allowed access to the technology. Our commitment to safety far exceeds the requirements set by the Virginia DMV – making their actions puzzling.

If you want continued access to the safest and most affordable rides on the road, we need you to email, call and tweet your policymakers and tell them #VAneedsUber. Let Virginia policymakers know that banning ridesharing not only harms the countless riders who use the platform to connect with safe, affordable and reliable rides, but it also hurts thousands of small business entrepreneurs who rely on the platform to make a living, create new jobs and contribute to the economy.

Uber on,

Zuhairah Washington

General Manager, Uber DC

Rachel Holt

Regional General Manager, East Coast

TELL THE VIRGINIA DMV AND THE COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT

TO STAND UP FOR YOU!

The answer depends on you: Tell Virginia’s leaders that #VAneedsUber and ask them to stand up for you and not the status quo.

Reach out to Virginia DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb, richard.holcomb@dmv.virginia.gov or 804-367-6606.

Tell Commissioner Holcomb that Virginia needs better transportation options.

Reach out to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, terence.mcauliffe@governor.virginia.gov or 703-822-7604.

Tell Governor McAuliffe to stand with residents, and support innovation and job creation.

Reach out to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring mailoag@oag.state.va.us or 804-786-2071.

Tell Attorney General Herring to uphold Virginians’ right to safer and more afforable transportation.

Reach out to the Department of Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne aubrey.layne@governor.virginia.gov or 804-786-2071.

This is a strategy the company has used in cities and states across the country, including the District of Columbia, where the D.C. Council and D.C. Taxicab Commission are currently mulling over two sets of regulations for such services.

Will Uber prevail? We’ll see.

(Disclosure: Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos is an Uber investor.)

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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