Monday, March 16, 2015

Uber Could Soon Be Operating in Ocean City, MD

Currently, Uber and Lyft, and other companies like them, are not in Ocean City, Maryland.  Last month, advertisements appeared online seeking Uber drivers in the area.  Ocean City officials say “Uber is welcome, but at this early stage in the game, the consensus seems to be that Uber drivers are going to have to play by the same rules as taxi drivers.”
For obvious reasons, taxi drivers are not happy about the thought of Uber drivers entering the market in Ocean City.  Uber has quickly gained popularity throughout the United States and other parts of the world because of the “on-demand” and ease of payments aspects of the service.
Uber and Lyft representatives are saying neither company has plans to launch in Ocean City.  However, an Uber representative did say the company will place advertisements in a city to test the “viability of a market.”
Aside from the Ocean City market, the state of Maryland as a whole has been in a legal battle with Uber for a few years.  In fact, Uber operated unregulated in Maryland for two years.  Uber has argued it is not a transportation company, but is a technology company offering a “driving service.”  But just a few weeks ago, Uber agreed to a five year deal with the Maryland Public Service Commission.  The agreement included regulation as a motor carrier, drivers with proper commission permits, and providing a list of these drivers to the commission.  Most importantly, UberX, the most popular Uber service, is not part of the agreement, just UberSUV and UberBlack are regulated. 
The Ocean City market, especially during peak season in the summer months, is prime for Uber and Lyft to enter the market.  During the busy months, a large percentage of the visitors are teenagers who are already familiar with these companies and would benefit the most from them in terms of safety.  It would help cut down on drunk driving and resulting deaths because people are more likely to use Uber than a taxi because of the ease of use.
So as Uber’s status in Maryland continues to change, Ocean City officials are in a holding pattern and not planning on making any decisions at this time.  Because peak season is so short in Ocean City and the large number of taxis already in the city, officials are also unsure whether it would even be profitable for Uber drivers.

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