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Uber Gets What It Has Been Missing: DC Love

It's official, the car service that angered the taxi drivers is now completely legal in DC. Uber can roll down the street without fear of being in violation of anything. Yesterday the D.C. Council made it legit and the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, wrote a letter of appreciation on the Uber blog that gives a few shout-outs to people like Councilmember Mary Cheh, who spearheaded the whole thing. The man is practically giddy. Read it in full after the jump.

Uber Faithful –

Today is a *really* big day for Uber. REALLY BIG. One which will keep Uber rolling in the nation's capital for years to come, with the full support of city officials. Today the DC Council unanimously passed a legislative framework for "digital dispatch" that is pro-innovation, pro-consumer, and pro-driver. It will not only improve transportation in the District, but also serve as an innovative model for city transportation legislation across the country. We're excited for DC and for the dozens of major cities we think will follow its lead.

A Little Uber DC History
When we first entered DC nearly a year ago, the transportation regulations in the nation's capital were some of the most open and progressive in the country, making the District fertile ground for Uber's kind of innovation. We launched our service excited about the possibilities and the future. But those existing regulations were devised at a time before smartphones, GPS, and Google Maps. That disconnect concerned city officials and regulators alike. Did the existing regulations appropriately regulate this new model of transportation? How should the city protect consumers, drivers, and innovation all at the same time?

Since our launch here, DC city officials and the public have had an intense discussion about whether and how to update these old regulations for this new era, and how to do so in a way that benefits the city without sacrificing the safety, choice, and transparency that consumers and policymakers expect.

A Way Forward
Over the past several weeks, the Uber team has worked closely with members of the DC Council, led by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, to find a path forward for innovative transportation solutions such as Uber.

I'm proud to report that today, the DC Council unanimously passed a bill that promotes innovation, consumer choice, safety, and economic growth throughout the city. It's a model for cities across the country who are looking at ways to update their transportation laws for the 21st century. The law makes it explicitly clear that a company like Uber can continue to operate lawfully in Washington, DC. The law is pro-consumer and pro-innovation; it's pro-small-business, pro-driver, and progressive.

So what does the DC law include?

It explicitly defines a separate class of for-hire vehicles, sedans, that operate through digital dispatch and charge by time and distance.
It creates a single operator license for taxis, sedans and limousines and requires the DC Taxi Commission to actually issue licenses after a long four-year hiatus.
It sets new standards for price transparency that will benefit consumers.
And, above all, it brings regulatory certainty to the vehicle-for-hire marketplace – making it very clear that Uber and its partners, the licensed/regulated sedan companies and drivers, can't be regulated out of existence.
Practically, this new approach means that consumers can rely on Uber to connect them to a ride with the licensed car and driver closest to them. It means never wondering if you'll be stranded in a corner of the city because of how you look or where you live. It means having a reliable form of transportation you can count on 24 hours a day.

For drivers, it means that they can easily fill their downtime, be more productive, substantially increase their income, and continue to invest in and grow their businesses. It will help them live their own American Dream.

And for the city, it means that there will continue to be more transportation options – benefitting businesses of all sizes and boosting economic growth – and that DC will be known as a place that welcomes and embraces innovation that improves the quality of life for its citizens.

A Big Uber Hug and THANK YOU!
There is no way we could have been gotten to this point without the support and hard work of loyal Uber customers and fans in DC and around the country. You took to Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and the phone to make your voices heard about the value and quality of Uber in your lives and in your city and kept the #UberDClove alive. You are #UberDemocracy in action, and I thank you for all your efforts on behalf of the company.

There also is no way we could have gotten this done without the support of key members of the DC Council – elected officials who listen to their constituents with a keen ear while keeping an eye on the future and what innovation can bring the District. The leader of this effort was Councilmember Mary Cheh. She was tireless in her efforts to craft a pro-innovation, pro-rider piece of legislation. We'd also like to thank the effort and support from Jack Evans and Tommy Wells throughout the process.

So, if you have a few minutes today, send Councilmember Cheh some #UberDCLove in the form of a tweet, Facebook post, or a nice e-mail. Also don't forget about her colleagues, Michael Brown and David Catania. And drop a line to Mayor Gray urging him to quickly sign this bill into law.