The state Public Service Commission issued the cease and desist directive Thursday, telling Raiser LLC (the subsidiary that makes the UberX app) to no longer operate until it gets a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which is required for any motor vehicle carrier in South Carolina. Taxi operators are required by state law to get the certificate.
“Consumers benefit from, and deserve choices in, the marketplace,” the commission’s chair Nikki Hall wrote. “However, those choices must be consistent with state law intended to protect the public.”
Uber uses a phone app that allows customers in its service markets to request a ride. The customer can use the app to set up a pickup location, time, and price. The service launched in Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville last summer. But the company has debated with the state ever since about whether it should have to follow the same regulations as taxi services, including insurance and safety inspections.
The order notes Uber has applied for the certificate, but has been operating without one for months. A hearing was scheduled before the commission on January 26, but that was suspended after Checker Yellow Cab sought information from Uber as part of the discovery process. Uber challenged Checker’s request, and Checker filed a motion to compel. An Office of Regulatory Staff hearing officer is still deciding that motion.
An Uber spokesman vowed to continue forward. “Despite working closely with the PSC for the past several months on a permanent solution for Uber in South Carolina, today’s actions are unexpected and not reflective of the progress made thus far,” Taylor Bennett said in a statement. “We will challenge the order and remain committed to providing South Carolinians with greater opportunity and choice.”