Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft will soon have to be licensed as "transportation network companies" to operate in Oklahoma City.
This also means the clock is ticking, and drivers are running out of time to get a permit.
The OKC city council made the decision this week to place regulations on Uber and any other company like it.
“When they can run around without buying the insurance, without having the background checks, without the scrutiny of the law on them, that's a bad thing,” Carl Gaskins, Thunder cab driver, said.
Popular ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, have been challenged by taxi cab companies since they hit the ground in Oklahoma City more than a year ago.
They've seen criticism from cabbies saying the new services create an uneven playing field.
“The problem with Uber and Lyft and some of these others is they feel like they don't have to meet the legal requirements,” Gaskins said.
“When they entered of course, they didn't check with us,” said Assistant City Manager M.T. Berry. “They didn't feel like they needed to comply with our vehicle for hire regulations.”
So, it took the city about a year to get regulations drafted and in place.
City leaders went through a process of working with Uber and Lyft, along with our local taxi and limousine industry, to come up with a new ordinance.
“It requires that the drivers all receive permits from the city, that their vehicles are inspected by the city, that they pass a background check,” Berry said.
Berry said this new ordinance will establish rules and regulations specifically for rideshare services.
“They're very much the same as the regulations for taxi cabs, in that it requires the company to both have a state license, a license to operate within the state and a license to operate within this city,” Berry added.
“If they can get it implemented and get proper enforcement, it will be great,” Gaskins said.
Permits cannot be issued until the companies themselves register first with the city.
The companies will be required to apply for the license in about 30 days.
Uber and Lyft drivers must have a permit by mid-February.