Yesterday, popular rideshare companies Uber and Lyft received cease and desist letters from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The letter ordered both companies to halt service in the commonwealth until "proper authority" has been acquired. Uber and Lyft provide services similar to a taxicab or hired car and operate through mobile applications.
Both companies insist that they are not violating laws and pledge to remain in service despite the orders from the DMV.
Uber sent an email to all of its subscribers on Friday outlining the case and explaining that their insurance and safety standards are far higher than what the law requires. (Emphasis added)
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
Customers angry with the DMV's actions heeded Uber's advice and took to Twitter to express their outrage. Some posts included requests to state officials to "listen to their constituents" and allow Uber and Lyft to operate without any threat of government interference. Others suggested that pressure from traditional taxi companies was behind the move to order Uber and Lyft to cease operations.
All of the work is possibly paying off--or at least causing a headache in Richmond:
I've used Uber dozens of times without a problem. I think it's ridiculous that Virginia is attempting to shut down a modern, safe, reliable form of transportation and impede on a company's right to do business.