Rule changes proposed by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission would shut down Uber’s five-month-old operation in Denver, the company said today.
Uber supplies a mobile app that allows users to arrange for town cars to pick them up directly with the drivers, and the app sets a rate based on the distance of the ride.
The proposed rules would make it illegal for town cars to charge a distance-based rate. It would ban town-car pickups within 200 feet of a restaurant, bar or hotel, which would apply to much of Denver’s downtown area.
But according to the Public Utility Commission, which regulates car services but not taxis, the regulatory changes began prior to Uber’s launch in Denver and are intended to affect transportation companies, not Uber.
Colorado law already forbids distance pricing by requiring that a price be set in advance of the trip, according to PUC Spokesman Terry Bote. It also forbids private car pickups near restaurants, bars and hotels, he said. Bote said those laws come from the legislature, and the PUC is tasked with enforcing them.
The proposed rule changes “are not intended to put anybody out of business. These rules are for public safety, consumer protection and fairness,” Bote said.
Uber also says the law would make it illegal for it to partner with drivers at existing town-car services, which is its basic business model. Bote said he didn’t know where the company got that interpretation.
Uber, which also connects users and taxi drivers in some markets, has met with a maelstrom of opposition from officials who oversee the highly regulated industries. In many cases, including, most recently in Washington, D.C., Uber has ultimately prevailed.