Taxi drivers speak out on Uber controversy in Harrison County - - The News for South Mississippi

Taxi drivers speak out on Uber controversy in Harrison County


A meeting on Thursday night could determine if an international transportation service known as Uber can continue to do business in Harrison County. Customers contact Uber using an app when they need a ride, then Uber connects customers with a driver contracted through the company who will pick them up in a privately owned vehicle.

Part of the reason Harrison County Motor Vehicle For Hire Authority accuses Uber of operating illegally is because Uber drivers are not paying the fees to the Authority that regulated taxi companies pay.  WLOX talked with some taxi drivers to get their take on the situation.

With all the money taxi drivers shell out for licenses and fees some drivers said it's not right that Uber drivers aren't also feeling that financial pinch.

"They may have an unfair advantage over taxis because we have to pay county fees," said Scott Rico, cab driver. "I just don't see how they can move in without having to pay all those same taxes and fees and everything we have to pay. It just doesn't seem right."

Other taxi drivers said Uber not paying fees doesn't bother them.

Cab Driver Richard Smith said, "I have no problem with Uber. Uber is totally separate from us. It's called free enterprise. It's called competition. It makes everything better. It makes the business better. It provides better service for the customer. Quicker service for the customer."

 "Uber is a self regulated company. A multi billion dollar company," said cab driver Leisa Leisy. "I believe in free enterprise. I believe that the competition will strengthen the service to the clients so I'm all for it."

Many cab drivers say they don't see the transportation service as a threat.

Driver Jack Gazzo said, "It may affect some of the tourist business but we who build our reputation on our personal and on our ability to provide service. I don't think Uber can match that."

In fact, some cab drivers said they'd like to see Uber stick around and get rid of the Motor Vehicle For Hire Authority and its fees. 
"I think our fees should be eliminated 100 percent. We should go back to the cities just paying a fee like every other business does in the city and that the motor vehicle for hire should be abolished," Leisy said.

WLOX reached out to Uber and the company sent us a statement outlining how it does extensive background checks and uses GPS to keep a record of where drivers go during the ride.

Uber and the Harrison County Motor Vehicle for Hire Authority did not come to an agreement on regulations for Uber during Thursday's meeting.

Officials with the authority said they are under negotiations to get Uber in compliance with state statutes and city ordinances.

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