The folks at Uber, the regulatorily beleaguered luxury car dispatch service, are wondering why they’ve been subject to so much interference from the the D.C. Taxicab Commission when that body never fielded a formal complaint about Uber during its first seven months in service.
Uber shared with media outlets the reply to a Freedom of Information Act request made by a private citizen requesting a “listing of all public complaints” filed against Uber.
The reply, from a commission attorney: “The D.C. Taxicab Commission (DCTC) has not received any public complaints against Uber Technologies nor against any other taxi and limousine services during the requested timeframe. Please note that public complaints are mainly lodged against individual taxicab and/or limousine drivers, not against taxicab and/or limousine services.”
Uber’s D.C. manager Rachel Holt said that Commission Chairman Ron M. Linton has cited various complaints in the nine months since the commission started raising questions about Uber. The commission ticketed one Uber driver in January in a “sting” of sorts; shortly afterward, Linton acknowledged in an interview with DCist he’d received “tremendous pressure from cab companies [about] the way Uber is functioning.”
That the commission has no recorded complaints, Holt said, “makes it very difficult for us to trust a regulatory body.”
”A number of things have been said that have turned out not to be true,” she added. “Obviously, from our position, it’s disappointing and it’s frustrating.”
Linton said it’s misleading to suggest the commission’s interest was driven by formal complaints. “I said we have received a couple of calls about them,” he said. “Early on, we received several oral complaints before it ever become a public issue.”
No written complaints were ever filed, and Linton said he acted as regulator of for-hire vehicles to figure out whether Uber’s business followed current laws and regulations. That, he said, is what led to the January sting, in which a Virginia-licensed Uber-affiliated driver was ticketed.
“We wanted to see how the system actually worked in practice,” Linton said. “What happened on that ride is that the driver and the vehicle were in violation of regulations.”
Uber, he added, has never gotten a ticket, fine or other sanction from the commission. “The matter is not about complaints,” Linton said. “We’re not raising questions about Uber. The enforcement is on the basis of regulations of drivers and vehicle. There’s no way Uber can get a ticket.”
The D.C. Council is now deciding how to handle proposed regulations for a “sedan class” of for-hire vehicles that would more strictly regulate the sorts of cars Uber dispatches.