The Public Service Commission had issued a cease-and-desist order against Reiser, LLC (the Uber subsidiary which makes the app) two weeks ago, saying the firm needed a Class C license in order to operate in South Carolina. Potential competitor Checker Yellow Cab had been intervening, objecting that Uber has an unfair business advantage since it is not subjected to the same regulations as a traditional taxi service.
The situation changed after State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, filed legislation on January 22 that would create new regulations for services like Uber. Uber argues it is not a traditional cab company, but uses a phone app to connect passengers with independent drivers. After the legislation was filed, Checker Yellow agreed to lift its objection and allow Uber to operate while legislators take up the proposed bill. An attorney for the cab company said they would work to change the law instead of continuing to fight the app.
Uber’s permit will allow it to operate until the legislative session ends in June.
“We’re very excited,” East Coast general manager Billy Guernier told South Carolina Radio Network. “We applaud the action by the PSC and certainly appreciate the support that we received from the governor… We look forward to seeing state legislation pass in the near future.”
Office of Regulatory Staff executive director C. Dukes Scott said Uber will be exempted from some regulations (it will not need to use markings identifying it as a taxi, for example). But the company has agreed to have each driver carry at least $1 million in insurance to protect the passenger. The cars will also be required to undergo state inspections.
Those requirements could change if state legislators set up different regulations later this year.
Guernier said Uber’s drivers had continued operating despite the cease-and-desist order the past two weeks.