Committee passes motion for investigation into "Uber" app

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee's Public Works Committee has passed a motion to conduct an investigation into the "Uber" car-sharing service that began operations in Milwaukee last week.

“Uber” has an app that allows users to hitch a ride without paying a cab. The service is popular and controversial in large cities across the country. The app launched on February 13th in Milwaukee.

With one click, a private vehicle picks you up and takes you to your desired destination.

“We are a technology company, and its a mobile app that connects riders to drivers,” Uber’s General Manager Nick Anderson said.

With the click of a button, a driver in your area is notified and sent your way — and there is no need to hit the ATM.

“All of the payments are handled seamlessly through the app.  You don’t ever have to give the driver credit card information. You never have to give him cash,” Anderson said.

However, there is a problem. Many in Milwaukee's City Hall say the new technology is illegal.

“We’re fairly confident, at least on the face of it, they are a cab,” Milwaukee City Clerk Jim Owczarski said.

He says Uber contacted him two months ago to say they were coming to town. Owczarski said great — apply for permits.

“Uber is a rogue application,” Red Christensen with United American Taxi said.

Christensen, with Milwaukee’s largest taxi company says Uber operates without applying for permits.

“Essentially, this company is not registered in the city of Milwaukee, licensed and none of their drivers are licensed,” Christensen said.

“They made it crystal clear they have no intentions of complying with those rules and regulations,” Owczarski said.

On Uber’s first day of operation, Alderman Bob Bauman says he’s asked the city attorney to file a lawsuit against Uber.

“Every city we go to, we research the local requirements.  So they’re licensed, they have the proper insurance, and it’s fully legal,” Anderson said.

Anderson says Uber uses local professional companies and conducts their own background checks.

It is a convenient program that city leaders say will be tested in court.

“We welcome the new service, but they have to comply with all our applicable rules and regulations regarding limousines, taxis,” Owczarski said.

On Wednesday, February 19th, one Public Works Committee member said the service would be great for Milwaukee if it complied with city regulations - such as having a proper license, insurance and inspected vehicles.

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