Now that Governor Hickenlooper has officially authorized ride sharing service smartphone apps, car-sharing service Uber Technologies, which operates Uber Black and Uber X in Denver, is looking to expand across the Front Range.
Uber< connects people using their own personal vehicle to fare paying passengers, like a taxi without the yellow cab. Those passengers hail Uber drivers via an app on their smartphone.
“We positively anticipate being [in Fort Collins] within the next few months if not sooner,” said Uber Denver General Manager, Will McCollum. “What we want to do first and foremost is properly work with the PUC to ensure again that this is done right and it’s done the first time. The nation is watching with this new legislation in place.”
The state Public Utilities Commission will require ride sharing services like Uber and competitor Lyft to carry at least $1 million in liability insurance, as well as guarantee additional insurance coverage for on the clock drivers when they’re between paying passengers.
McCullum said before Uber X rolls out statewide, the company needs to respond to market demand and what communities need.
“We do indeed need critical mass of drivers that go through the rigorous background check process, and vehicle inspection,” he said. “On the market side, we want to make sure that clients can come to depend on a reliable ride. So that’s why we’re not necessarily launching in Northern Colorado next week, but we’re building up toward that.”
It’s been a great run lately for the 4-year-old start up. Uber announced that after securing additional funding the private company is now valued at 18.2 billion dollars. McCullum said on top of that, the Governor’s approval of statewide ride sharing services proves the company is able to provide reliable service to customers.
“I think overwhelmingly that the investment banking community recognizes that Uber really is taking the lead when it comes to this [ride sharing] technology,” he said. “So between that one, two combo right there; the regulatory piece and then as well the valuation piece, we’ve got a lot of momentum that speaks volumes to the fact that it’s working for drivers.”
Uber has been involved in a longstanding conflict with traditional taxi companies. They spoke out against the new regulations saying ride sharing companies have an unfair advantage because they don’t face the same regulations as cab drivers.
A number of state legislatures have tried to pass legislation similar to Colorado’s, but failed following push back from taxi companies. California passed ride sharing regulations in 2013 through its Public Utilities Commission, but Colorado is the first in the country to do so through its legislature.