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Uber car service battles to stay in Colorado

The state's Public Utilities Commission is proposing regulatory changes that could shut down the transportation startup's Denver service. But the company is not leaving without a fight.


Uber is headed toward another obstacle from city officials, and this time it's in Denver, Colo.

The state's Public Utilities Commission is proposing changes to the rules that regulate motor vehicle transportation, which could essentially shut UberDenver down.

The transportation startup announced today that it's going to fight to keep its service in the state. Uber has created a petition for Colorado residents to sign in support of Uber. The company is also urging locals to e-mail the state's governor, John Hickenlooper, and the chairman and director of the Public Utilities Commission.

"Since our launch five months ago, Uber has made great strides in creating a convenient, efficient, and classy transportation alternative in Denver," UberDenver's general manager, Will McCollum, said in a blog post. "Uber's technology platform has improved transportation options for thousands of Denverites, and has helped grow the small businesses of hundreds of our driver partners."

The proposed changes to the motor vehicle transportation rules include bans on sedan companies charging by distance, getting within 200 feet of a restaurant, bar, or hotel, and partnering with local sedan companies.

Since Uber's business model is based on providing private transportation to customers via smartphone apps, any of these potential rule revisions could end the company's Colorado service.

"These rules are not designed to promote safety, nor improve quality of service," McCollum wrote. "They are intended to stop innovation, protect incumbents, hurt independent drivers, and shut down Uber in Denver."

However, Denver isn't the only city that's had issues with the transportation service. Uber has also faced regulatory challenges from Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco. In November, a class-action suit was filed against Uber in San Francisco Superior Court claiming unfair business practices. The suit claims Uber has ducked all regulations that normally govern taxicab companies.

Some of these cities have ultimately decided, however, to allow Uber to continue running its service. The company scored a victory last month when Washington D.C.'s city council unanimously approved a legislative framework for "digital dispatch" transportation services. And regulators in New York City recently approved a one-year pilot program that allows New Yorkers to hail nearby street cabs using apps like Uber.