Uber car service plans to come to Boise

adutton@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2014 

The smartphone car-for-hire service Uber is gearing up to launch in the Boise market.

The San Francisco company is taking online applications for drivers in Boise. Advertisements on Facebook and Craigslist say Boise drivers, using their own cars to shuttle customers, would earn up to $45,000 a year or $20 an hour as contractors.

Uber operates in 70 cities and is "rapidly expanding," its website says.

The Uber service uses a phone app to connect customers with drivers. Its arrival in major metro areas has spawned regulatory battles, criticism and protests from taxicab drivers and charges that its ride-sharing service is an unlicensed taxicab operation.

The company says on its website that it is not a taxi company, only that it connects the customer with the third-party driver and that Uber "has no responsibility or liability" for services provided by those drivers.

Uber's website also says that "every driver meets all local regulations," including insurance and background checks.

If an Uber driver receives payment for service, the city of Boise plans to consider the driver to be "performing, in essence, a taxi service," said Adam Park, communications director for Mayor David Bieter. The driver will have to get a taxi license, he said.

"If the driver elects not to receive payment, then it will be considered a ride-share arrangement and will not require licensing," Park said. "I don't imagine that a driver would choose not to receive payment, but that is where the line would be drawn."

An Uber representative said the company has been receiving requests for months from people in Boise.

"We're excited about the Boise market and look forward to exploring opportunities in the future," Eva Behrend said in an email, adding that the company doesn't have "immediate plans" for its launch in Boise.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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