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Uber Says New Ridesharing Ordinance Could End Operation In Kansas City

If passed, a new city ordinance could have big implications for ridesharing companies in Kansas City.

Representatives from the Kansas City branch of ridesharing company Uber say that a new ordinance scheduled for debate by the Kansas City Council Thursday could force them to leave the city entirely.

The new ordinance would require ride-share drivers to pay a $250 fee to get licensed, or $150 if their parent companies pay an annual $10,000 fee. To ease the up-front cost, the city would waive its inspection fee and allow drivers to use state vehicle inspections instead.

Even with that cost reduction, Uber Kansas City general manager Andy Hung says that if the ordinance passes without changes, it would be dire for the company.

"To be honest, if the ordinance passed as it is today, it would be very difficult to continue operating," Hung said. "Again though, I'm very optimistic that we'll be able to make progress on this."

Mayor Sly James preemptively released a statement on the ordinance Thursday. In it, James said the fees were to ensure drivers are as safe as possible.

Hung says that, in addition to background checks for drivers and commercial liability insurance, Uber's use of GPS tracking and two-way driver-passenger rating system is enough to show that the company is committed to safety. Representatives from competing ridesharing company Lyft, which hasn't operated in Kansas City since October 2014, said they are positive about the ordinance.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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