MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Taxi drivers and local taxi companies have been invited to meet at City Hall at 1 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss how things have been going since the changes with Uber.
This is not an official city council meeting, but a brainstorming opportunity to get feedback on what could help protect local taxi businesses.
The Uber battle started in July 2014. That's when the ride-sharing company announced it would start picking up riders in the Grand Strand. At the same time, the city of Myrtle Beach announced the service is not allowed in city limits because the company of Uber did not have a business license for the city of Myrtle Beach. Regardless of the city's position, you could find Uber drivers willing to pick up and drop off customers.
Then in February 2015, city leaders agreed to allow individual Uber drivers to operate in city limits, if each driver got individual business licenses. City spokesperson Mark Kruea says city leaders were hoping this would level the playing field.
But that's null and void with the recent changes at the state level giving Uber the green light. The Transportation Network Company Act was approved in June by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Nikki Haley. Part of the law says that transportation companies and transportation drivers are not considered motor vehicle carriers and are therefore not considered to provide taxi, charter bus, charter limousine, or for-hire services. This means Uber drivers are not considered to be providing the same service as taxi drivers, and that local governments are not allowed to require business licenses for them. The new law does require, though, Uber drivers have proper permits, insurance, and pass background checks through the company.
For any Uber driver that was in the process of getting a business license, that is no longer necessary. And if a driver already got one, it is no longer needed for official records. Kruea says the fees paid to get that license should not be refunded because it was a requirement at the time.