Boise City Council Delays Uber Decision, Free Rides To Continue

Feb 11, 2015

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise City Council Tuesday put off a decision on whether to allow ride-sharing service Uber to operate, saying tweaks were needed to the agreement before allowing the service to become permanent and charge customers.

The council's inaction means Uber can still operate in Boise, but it can't charge passengers.

The council will again take up the matter Feb 24.

Uber introduced its service to the Treasure Valley in October and an Uber official said more than 100 drivers have been using the platform to pick up and deliver tens of thousands of travelers free-of-charge.

The agreement the council rejected Tuesday night would have permitted Uber to operate in Boise while the city evaluated an ordinance that would address ride-sharing network services.

Council President Maryanne Jordan said the proposal as presented Tuesday night wouldn’t work.

“It’s a poor agreement with bad language,” she said.

The proposal would have required Uber to perform background checks on drivers as well as conduct reviews of DMV records, checks on the national sex offender database, vehicle inspections as well as take out a $1 million commercial insurance policy that would cover both drivers and passengers.

Fingerprint identification for Uber drivers was an important part missing from the agreement, according to the council. 

“Safety is our No. 1 priority in everything we do,” council member T.J. Thompson said.

This focus on safety comes two days after Uber announced it had added a panic button to its app in India after concerns about passenger safety. 

Under the interim agreement, Uber drivers are not allowed to charge for rides. However, some instances of riders being charged have been reported and the city has sent Uber a cease and desist order and the company has reimbursed riders who were charged.

About 50 people attended the meeting Tuesday night and some were upset that they were not allowed a chance to speak about the proposal. Officials said people would have an opportunity for input before a deal is finalized.

Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio