Latest DMV announcement could bring Uber to Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — It is a phenomenon that has swept major cities across the country: residents using phone applications like Uber and Lyft to travel around town, especially late at night.

“I probably go out three to four times a week,” Scott Shortino said. “It is pretty annoying to wait for a taxi.”

Shortino is one of many hoping Uber and Lyft are allowed to expand legally to cities in Virginia.  Mothers Against Drunk Drivers also appear to welcome the service.

“We are supportive of all types of transportation that can potentially take drunk drivers off the road,” Chris Konschak of MADD Virginia said.

Uber and Lyft both offer affordable “cab-like” experiences to customers who can order the service via an application on their phone. The apps offer GPS location and real time arrival data for customers so they don’t have to wait outside for their car to arrive.

In early June, the Virginia DMV sent out cease and desist letters to the companies for illegally operating in Virginia.

However, the DMV announced they are  reviewing  applications by the ride-sharing giants this week.

“DMV has received an application from Uber for a broker’s license and also received a letter requesting temporary authority,” DMV spokesperson Sunni Brown said.

The DMV has also received a broker’s license application as well as a temporary authority from Lyft.

“DMV is now giving these applications and the request careful consideration,as it does and would give to any business or person applying for operating authority in Virginia,” the DMV said.

Rachel Thomas — a spokesperson for Gov. Terry McAuliffe — said the administration is encouraged that they have taken the first steps to operate in accordance with the law.

Both offices are seeking guidance from the Office of the Attorney General. At issue is a complaint that taxi cab companies are concerned about.

“It can pretty much ruin everything,” Tarif Shabazz, a local cab driver, said.

Shabazz is upset that Uber and Lyft drivers do not have the same permits and license procedures that taxi cabs must have. That is because Uber and Lyft consider themselves a different type of business.

“If we have to get our license to drive around the city, then why can’t they get their license,” Shabazz asked.

James River Transportation told CBS 6  they also want an equal playing field, but commend services like Uber for raising the bar in terms of transportation.

While the City of Richmond has yet to receive Uber, RVA News reports the organization is considering it after advertisements for drivers in Richmond popped up on social media sites.

As far as reaction to the DMV’s decision, Uber officials sent the following statement:

“It’s great news that the DMV is listening to the tens of thousands of Virginians who have voiced their support for safe, affordable and reliable transportation options and valuable economic opportunities.

Thanks to the leadership of Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Herring and Secretary of Transportation Layne, Virginia is standing up for innovation, job creation and consumer safety, and is on it’s way to create a permanent regulatory home for ridesharing.  We look forward to a swift review of our DMV application and continuing to provide Virginians with the Uber they know and love.”

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