In a direct blow to app-based cab services like Uber, the D.C. Taxi Commission Monday approved new regulations that disallow some fuel-efficient vehicles, like Toyota Prius, from operating as sedans.
Uber, a sedan service, earlier this month lauched UberX as a cheaper option in several U.S. cities, using hybrid and mid-range cars.
Rachel Holt with Uber D.C. said the service was working with already existent D.C. cabs to help them tap into the market. She said Uber drivers are pulling in hundreds of dollars more per week than D.C. cab drivers.
Council member Mary Cheh wrote a letter to D.C. Taxi Commission Chairman Ron Linton in June, requesting officials allow UberX and other services like it to function without new restrictions. She claimed the restrictions, which were approved Monday, would "discourage new, innovative technology companies from operating in the District."
According to the commission's findings, the restrictions would still allow for more than 40 hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles and that it would "not be appropriate to add in the Prius or other basic, economy cars."
The commission also states the use of app-based services like Uber would take away the business of D.C. cabs and would eventually lead to higher-priced services:
"Visitors without smartphones could not use a street hail to obtain service and residents who do not use or cannot afford smartphones – including those in under-served areas of the city and the elderly – would be left with nothing."