“These apps appear to be a disruptive technology that doesn’t fit neatly into the traditional regulatory framework that has characterized the industry for decades,” Andrew Gavil, director for the office of policy planning for the FTC, said in an interview.
The various governments are all struggling to define what Uber and the other services are. Are they simply middlemen matching riders with licensed car services, whether a cab or private livery? Or are they, in effect, a shadow car service that simply outsources the actual ride to independents and evades the level of regulation and scrutiny that taxis such as Boston Cab undergo?
Ray Mundy, director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri St. Louis, said city regulators are rightfully concerned with how Uber and other electronic dispatchers do their job.
“Simply to come in and say, ‘We’re not going to have to abide by the regulations here because we’re an app,’ ” Mundy said, “isn’t going to fly.”
Michael B. Farrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.