|By Jennifer Sorentrue, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Uber announced Thursday that it was expanding its app-based service to
County officials, however, say Uber and its driver partners are not licensed to operate here. Uber drivers that provide rides for people in
"Uber, right now, they are operating illegally in
The county says it closely regulates vehicles-for-hire to protect the safety of residents and visitors. Drivers are required to have permits, pass background checks and carry additional insurance. Taxis and other vehicles that are older than seven years or have more than 350,000 miles must be inspected twice a year.
"The regulations that are in place, they don't apply to a technology company," Bennett said. "They don't make sense. ... Our hope is to work with (local) officials to modernize those regulations."
Efforts to restrict the company's operation here only hurt residents, Bennett said.
"Any attempt to take away a safe and reliable way to move around town, that only hurts the consumers," Bennett said.
Uber says all of its driver partners must undergo the company's rigorous screening process, including passing a stringent background check, a driving history check and ongoing quality controls.
Uber's driver partners are required to have four-door, full- to mid-sized vehicles that are no more than 10 years old, Bennett said. The company also has its own commercial insurance policy that covers drivers and passengers, Bennett said.
Since Uber announced its expansion last week, the county has received many complaints from taxi drivers and other vehicle-for-hire companies frustrated that the ride-sharing company is not following county regulations, Reavis said.
"It is an outcry," Reavis said. The county is trying to identify and cite Uber drivers, he added.
Bennett said Uber will pick up costs for drivers who are cited.
"Any legal or financial costs, we will cover," Bennett said. "These drivers are making a living. When you take that away you are taking away their livelihood."
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