LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The car service Uber has been operating in Lubbock since July, but questions have been raised about whether or not they are in violation of the City Code of Ordinances.
"There are city ordinances regarding vehicles for hire. The vehicles have to be inspected and deemed to be safe. It has always been an issue, even with our cab companies," said Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson.
"We had a problem last month with our existing cab company where they were down to two cabs because they had so many that would not meet inspection, so there is some question on how this is going to apply to Uber, will it apply to Uber, there are test cases in other cities so the City Secretary's office and City Attorney have looked at it," Robertson said.
Deputy City Secretary Thomas Harris said right now the determination is that Uber has to comply with Chapter 24 of the City's Code of Ordinances.
Harris said vehicles transporting for leisure must have a valid chauffeur license that is registered with the Lubbock Police Department, a driver must be commercially bonded and insured, have a vehicle inspection, and if they are acting as a taxi, certain equipment is required inside the vehicle. He says these are things like a rate meter, certain lighting and a picture of the driver.
Harris said the City Secretary's office is still conducting an in-depth review of possible ways to adapt to Uber. Many other cities across the country are doing the same thing, but he doesn't have an exact timetable for when a definite conclusion will be reached.
Mayor Robertson believes that Uber is a unique exception.
"I think that the main question still is does it apply to Uber, and if it does, is it too restrictive? Uber is a different animal. These are folks using a service to get connected with other people, so I don't know, I think it's going to take a lot of looking at before ordinances would even apply to Uber," he said.
"Right now I don't know that we have a problem because Uber is operating and I don't know that we've had anybody making any complaints. If anything would need to be done to the ordinance it might need to be loosened up," Robertson said.
With Yellow Cab in Lubbock officially closing Sunday, Mayor Robertson believes Uber can help alleviate some of the city's transportation issues.
"I think we've got to let market conditions decide what businesses survive and which ones fail. I understand the concept that we have to make sure that our citizens are safe, but I also think that the majority of our citizens are smart enough to know that if a car pulls up to pick them up and it does not look safe, they are smart enough to not get in it," he said.
"Anybody under 40 knows what Uber is, they know how it operates, the majority of them are fans of it. I don't have a problem with Uber, I welcome them with open arms in the City."
Thomas Harris added that theoretically if the LPD pulled over an Uber driver who wasn't in compliance with the City Code of Ordinances they could be fined. That penalty is a misdemeanor fine between $25 and $500 and possible revocation of any permit held by the driver.