NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles is telling two ride-sharing services to stop.
DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb sent Uber and Lyft cease and desist letters Thursday morning.
Many in Norfolk and Virginia Beach have been taking advantage of Lyft and Uber since they launched in the area in May. Uber calls itself ride sharing, while Lyft refers to its peer-to-peer business model. With both companies, a passenger connects with and pays for rides through the companies’ smartphone apps.
However, the DMV said service needs to stop.
“There are lots of companies who operate using different types of technology that are doing so with the proper authority,” said Sunni Brown, the DMV spokeswoman.
In his cease and desist letters, Holcomb said Lyft and Uber do not have the proper authority Brown is referring to. Holcomb said the DMV will issue civil penalties to drivers if they don’t stop operating in the Commonwealth immediately. Brown said both companies have already been fined for rides provided in Northern Virginia earlier this year.
Brown explained that any transportation service that accepts money in the state needs to meet requirements and get certain licenses.
“The bottom line is, these companies would need to apply for some type of operating authority with Virginia, and there would be a number of options, actually, that they would have available to them, to prove that they have the proper operating authority, the proper insurance, the safety measures that the DMV feels comfortable with,” Brown said.
WAVY.com reached out to both Uber and Lyft.
Natalia Montalvo with Uber released the following statement:
The DMV’s actions today are shocking and unexpected. Uber has been providing Virginians with safe, affordable and reliable transportation options for months and has continued to work in good faith with the DMV to create a regulatory framework for ridesharing. The DMV decision today hurts thousands of small business entrepreneurs who rely on the Uber platform to make a living, create new jobs and contribute to the economy – and it hurts the countless residents who rely on Uber to connect them with affordable, safe and reliable transportation alternatives. We look forward to continuing to work with the Virginia DMV to find a permanent home for ridesharing in the Commonwealth.
Uber later send WAVY News’ Liz Palka the following note:
You may have heard that Uber received a cease and desist letter from the Virginia DMV yesterday. We wanted to write to let you know that Uber will operate as usual, and we plan to continue full-speed ahead with our commitment to providing Virginians access to safe, affordable and reliable rides. We are surprised and disappointed by the DMV’s actions, given that Uber has been working with the Virginia government for months to modernize regulations that will put consumer safety first. Virginia should be standing for innovation, consumer choice and job growth.
Uber has set the standard for consumer safety in the Commonwealth. All uberX rides in Virginia are insured up to $1,000,000, nearly 300% more than the $350,000 required of for-hire drivers by the Virginia DMV. While the Virginia DMV does not require that all for-hire drivers pass background checks, all drivers on the Uber platform pass rigorous background checks at the county, state and federal level before they are ever allowed access to the technology. Our commitment to safety far exceeds the requirements set by the Virginia DMV – making their actions puzzling.
If you want continued access to the safest and most affordable rides on the road, we need you to email, call and tweet your policymakers and tell them #VAneedsUber. Let Virginia policymakers know that banning ridesharing not only harms the countless riders who use the platform to connect with safe, affordable and reliable rides, but it also hurts thousands of small business entrepreneurs who rely on the platform to make a living, create new jobs and contribute to the economy.
General Manager, Uber DC
Regional General Manager, East Coast
Chelsea Wilson with Lyft said:
Virginia residents have enthusiastically embraced Lyft as an affordable and reliable transportation alternative that increases safety by going above and beyond what is required by existing transportation services. As many of the current regulations surrounding taxis and limos were created before anything like Lyft’s peer-to-peer model was ever imagined, we’re committed to continuing to work with state officials to craft new rules for this new industry. We truly believe that if we approach situations like this positively and collaboratively, we can work together with local leaders to greatly improve transportation access, safety and affordability.
When asked if Lyft will continue operations, Wilson said, “We’ve reviewed state transportation codes and believe we are following the applicable rules. We’ll continue normal operations as we work to make policy progress.”
The DMV is currently leading a study on the use of transportation and technology, like apps. The goal is to review current regulations and possibly come up with news ones. Until that study is complete, Brown said they must enforce existing laws.