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Charlotte City Council Decides Not To Regulate Ride-Share Drivers

Taxis wait for passengers on an Uptown Charlotte street.

Charlotte City Council is giving up the idea of regulating drivers for app-based ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. 

Uber, Lyft and a smaller service called Sidecar have been in Charlotte for over a year now, but a state law passed last year prevents the city from regulating them. Taxi companies say this gives the services an unfair advantage. To get around the state law, they’ve been pushing the city to regulate drivers instead of the companies.

The Council’s Community Safety Committee canceled Thursday’s meeting on the issue. Committee Chairwoman Claire Fallon says that’s because the state legislature is planning to take up the issue in January. The city’s efforts in the meantime, she says, would be wasted.

Obaid Khan of Diamond Cab is disappointed but not surprised. He says Uber and Lyft are taking so much of his business, he’s not sure his company can stay afloat.

“They’ve [Uber and Lyft] taken, I would say, between 70 and 80 percent of the business, so if you give them another 5 or 6 months, they’re going to have everything,” he says. 

City staff recommended requiring ride-share drivers to pay for a city license and to pass the same background checks as taxi drivers. Staff also recommend letting taxi companies set their own fares to better compete. Ride-sharing services are often cheaper than taxis, except during certain peak times.

The changes would not have addressed digital dispatch services being able to pick up passengers at Charlotte-Douglas airport, though.  The city only allows three cab companies to pick up passengers there, but digital dispatch drivers are allowed to because state law protects them.