Motor Vehicle for Hire Authority to propose regulations for tran - - The News for South Mississippi

Motor Vehicle for Hire Authority to propose regulations for transportation network companies

The Uber app showcasing drivers in South Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX News) The Uber app showcasing drivers in South Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX News)

On June 11, Uber, a transportation network company (TNC), launched on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. According to the Harrison County Motor Vehicle For Hire Authority (MVFHA), Uber is operating illegally because it failed to comply to the authority's regulations before launching and is currently not in compliance. The MVFHA currently oversees 26 cab companies and 130 drivers in Biloxi, Gulfport and D'Iberville.

MVFHA officials said they welcome Uber and any other taxi cab company, but the companies must follow the authority's regulations. Harrison County Motor Vehicle for Hire Authority Director Wes Pfeiffer said the reason Uber gave as to why it isn't complying with the regulations is that Uber doesn't fit any of the categories currently in effect in Harrison County.

Therefore, Uber has been operating unregulated in Harrison County. Pfeiffer said the company hasn't paid any fees that the regulated taxi cab companies have paid in Harrison County, nor has Uber distributed a list of its drivers to the authority. The authority has created proposed regulations for Uber which are similar to the regulations in place for the cab companies in Harrison County. Taxi cab companies operating on the coast are voicing their frustrations.
"The question is, are they going to come under the regulations of the Harrison County Motor Vehicle for Hire Authority? How is the authority going to enforce them? If Uber is allowed to operate with zero regulations and zero fees, we want a level playing field," said Vice President of Gulf Coast Yellow Cab Paige Coker.

On Thursday, the authority will hold at meeting at 5:30 p.m. to discuss proposed regulations for the TNC.

Current regulations for taxi cab companies regulated by the Harrison County Motor Vehicle For Hire Authority:

$400 a year per cab
Company and driver have to be registered
Background checks and drug screenings
Vehicles inspected
Certain regulations are set for fares

Pfeiffer said if Uber goes unregulated on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it could be a big safety issue and impact the local taxi industry.

"The vehicles haven't been inspected so we don't know the safety of the vehicle. They are under a million dollar insurance policy for each accident and all vehicles are covered. The main issue is they want to run their own background checks and permit drivers in-house. They don't do drug screenings and they don't want to report their list of drivers to us for oversight," Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer said sometimes Uber, which uses unmarked vehicles, provides cheaper fares, than other companies, but not all the time.

Currently Uber drivers aren't allowed at the airport or any of the military bases in South Mississippi. Uber requires users to download the Uber app to request and pay for a ride.

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