Uber wins reprieve to continue operating in Boston

With the governor's support, the popular private car service gets a reprieve from a cease-and-desist order.

Uber's smartphone personal vehicle service. Uber

After getting a cease-and-desist order, private livery service Uber has gotten the green light to resume operations in Boston.

The Division of Standards of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts earlier this month ordered the service, which allows people to request private car service via their smartphones, to cease operations because the National Institute of Standards and Technology had not issued guidelines for use of GPS location technology in commercial transportation.

Uber uses GPS technology rather than traditional odometers to measure distance traveled, which then determines the passenger's fare. That, apparently, is what the state Standards Division objected to.

"The major problem at this time is the fact that there are no established measurement standards for its current application and use in determining transportation costs similar to that of approved measurement systems for taximeters and odometers," the division said in its ruling. "Massachusetts law does not sanction unapproved devices for use in commercial transactions."

However, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation issued an amended decision titled " Massachusetts Gives Green Light for Uber Technologies" that will allow the service to continue operating in Boston:

Recently, the Division of Standards informed Uber that the device they use to calculate fare and distance needs to be certified by a national standard setting organization and, until that process began, the device could not be used in Massachusetts. The Division has since learned that this device is already being evaluated for certification by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Because of this, the Division will issue an operating certificate to Uber. Therefore, Uber is currently not out of compliance with state law and free to continue operating.

The decision was likely spurred by a tweet earlier today from Brendan Ryan, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's communications director, that indicated Patrick was committed to keeping Uber operational in Boston:

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick credited Patrick's involvement with helping to keep Uber Boston in business.

"Governor Patrick and his team really stepped up to support innovation in the Commonwealth," Kalanick said in a statement to CNET. "Today was a big win for Boston's tech community and for all of its citizens that deserve the Uber transportation alternative."

Updated at 5:55 p.m. PT with Uber comment.

 

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