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Uber, the car service that is loved by social-media-conscious fans, is opposed by the taxi industry and has proven to be unafraid to battle city regulators, won a huge victory in D.C. Council Tuesday. Council passed legislation that allows Uber - and similar car services - to operate as a separate, regulated form of transportation in the city.
Uber and other digitally dispatched car services will be able to set their own rates but cannot discriminate against passengers and would have to follow other regulations. The legislation passed Tuesday evening without debate.
Uber allows riders to summon cars via a smartphone app. Rates are set by time and distance, though they can also rise with demand - something that drew criticism when rates in New York City doubled after Sandy swept through.
Despite the rates, fans of the service loved that they could summon a car with a few swipes. Kevin Jonas, one of the Jonas Brothers, tweeted Tuesday, "I absolutely love @uber it's just so easy," and "@Uber 5 stars."
But taxi companies said Uber should have been regulated by the D.C. Taxicab Commission, which sets rates and policy for the District's cabs. The resulting battle got testy, with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick once saying that the taxicab commission was "adamantly opposed" to "reliable, quality, affordable transportation alternatives."
Uber was just as emphatic in its praise Tuesday as it had been in its earlier criticism of Council, posting on its blog that the new rules were "pro-innovation, pro-consumer, and pro-driver."
"It will not only improve transportation in the District, but also serve as an innovative model for city transportation legislation across the country," the post read.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray must still sign the bill into law.