FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - The City of Fayetteville is using undercover officers to bust Uber drivers. This after officials say the national ridesharing company is breaking city laws.
Two Uber drivers were ticketed over the weekend in Fayetteville, after officers said they were illegally operating as taxis.
Undercover officers used the service Saturday (Sept. 13) around 9 p.m., then ticketed their driver, Aaron Welch, after getting to their destination, according to the Fayetteville Police Department.
"I was wondering if I was able to drive home that night, or if I would have to find another way home, I just didn't know," Welch said.
Welch was cited on suspicion of operating without public convenience and necessity, operating without a taxi permit and operating without a taxi inspection decal, according to the traffic summons issued to the driver. The citations added up to a $185 fine. He said the costs will be covered by Uber, but added he wants answers as to why the city is trying to shut the service down in town.
"Uber is not a cab service, they are a tech company that connects drivers like me with people who need a ride somewhere," he said.
City Attorney Kit Williams argues Uber is a taxi service. He said the ridesharing service has not followed the regulations and permit process needed for taxi cabs to operate in the city.
"They are providing rides to strangers for money," he said. "If that's not a taxi service, I don't know what is. I wrote them a letter back in July saying you really should not try to operate here until you comply with the city ordinance."
The city attorney said the company never responded to his letter.
"We are just a little city and they are a big internet company, so they don't need to bother writing us back, I guess," Williams said.
In a statement issued by Uber, the company says it's unfortunate that Uber drivers are being targeted despite ongoing conversations with city officials on regulations.
"Every partner on the road has undergone a thorough background check, and every ride on the Uber platform is insured up to $1M - 3x what is required of taxis in the city," said Taylor Bennett, with Uber Technologies Inc. "We're eager to work together to find a permanent home for Uber in Fayetteville, but until then, using valuable public resources to unfairly cite drivers trying to make a living and help residents get around town is wasteful, counter-productive, and bad for the city."
Williams said police will continue to crack down on Uber drivers as long as they remain out of compliance with city laws.
"I don't know if the consequences are going to escalate from what they were last weekend or not," Welch said. "A $200 fine isn't really that big of a deal when you can make close to that in just one evening."
The city attorney said passengers are not breaking any city ordinances by riding in an Uber vehicle.