Uber calls new taxi ordinance a "barrier"


Uber has described the Iowa City City Council’s recently passed taxi ordinance as a barrier to bringing its service to Iowa City.

Despite the claim from Uber, the City Council isn’t budging on its support of the revised ordinance.

“A lot of people spent a lot of time working on this ordinance, and I think it’s fair to both traditional metered cabs and networked cabs,” Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek said. “This is not an Uber ordinance by any means.”

He said most of the provisions in the new ordinance address safety issues with cabs operating in Iowa City.

“Recently, there was an assault involving a taxi here in Iowa City,” Hayek said. “It took over 100 police man-hours to track down the cab that the assault took place in. This ordinance is about ensuring the safety of anyone who uses a cab, traditional or networked.”

Hayek said there are exceptions in the ordinance that would allow networked taxis to operate in Iowa City as well.

“For example, metered taxis are now required to have a dispatch office answering phones between midnight and 6 a.m.; this is not required for networked taxi companies, because their communication happens most often through an app,” he said.

Overall, Hayek said, the council wants taxis in Iowa City to have regulations that ensure rider safety.

“The City Council is responsible for the taxi ordinance, so therefore we are responsible for the safety of anyone who takes a cab in Iowa City,” he said.

Despite the ordinance passing that allows network cabs to exist, an Uber official said the new rules are overbearing.

“The ordinance as proposed creates an environment in which Uber cannot operate.” Uber representative Jennifer Mullin wrote in an email. 

“We are happy and eager to be a resource for the city and hope the desire is to create a framework that both ensures safety for residents and visitors but also leaves the option for Uber or other transportation network companies to operate in the future,” she said.

Potential riders may have to now wait longer for Uber to come, Mullin said.

University of Iowa students who have used Uber praised the company.

“I took an Uber when I was out in LA with some girlfriends,” UI student Taylor Wyatt said. “It was really cheap and got me where I was going quickly.”

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