In a stunning development that will hit Uber
where it presumably would be hurt the most—wrangling customers on a frigid New Year's Eve—the city of Boise issued the company a cease-and-desist order Dec. 31, saying Uber "ignored its own good-faith commitment to not charge for driver services" while continuing to negotiate with the city for an operating agreement.
Additionally, the city encourages residents to avoid the car service.
"Despite its commitment, Uber activated the 'pay feature' on its online application this week and drivers are charging passengers without an operating agreement in place," read a statement from Boise City Hall, adding that Uber was "essentially operating a business without a business license."
The city of Boise confirmed that negotiations for an operating agreement had been ongoing, and conversations as recent as Dec. 23 indicated that Uber would not charge for driver services until negotiations were complete.
City officials say they want the following from Uber before allowing the online application-based transportation network to operate in the city.
- Drivers have undergone background checks and are safe operators;
- Vehicles operated by Uber drivers are properly inspected and are safe for public transportation;
- Uber drivers and vehicles are properly insured, protecting riders from liability in the event of an accident;
- Uber customers have a clear way to provide complaints and feedback to the city of Boise;
In the meantime, the city "encourages all residents to avoid using the services of Uber drivers."
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Uber, upon hearing of the cease-and-desist, told Boise Weekly
, "It's unfortunate City officials are seeking to limit access to safe rides on a night when impaired driving rates are at their highest. We look forward to continuing to connect Boiseans to the people and places they love as we work with City officials to craft regulations that embrace choice and innovation."
Minutes after the city of Boise issued its cease-and-desist, Boise Weekly
checked the Uber application, which indicated that as many as six drivers were prepared to take customers, while the app promised "the safest and most affordable ride in town."