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Car Service App's Days In OKC May Be Limited

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Uber is creating financial concerns for local transportation companies, and city officials say they are worried about passenger safety. Uber is creating financial concerns for local transportation companies, and city officials say they are worried about passenger safety.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Cab drivers across the metro are demanding Oklahoma City regulate a new car service called "Uber."

Uber is creating financial concerns for local transportation companies, and city officials say they are worried about passenger safety. Uber is in more than 50 cities -- large urban areas like London, Chicago and Dallas. In Oklahoma City, city leaders admit Uber is a foreign concept.

11/6/2013 Related Story: OKC Officials Consider Putting The Brakes On Uber

At an Oklahoma City Traffic Commission meeting Monday, Uber opposition was in high gear.

"We don't have any issue with the technology," said Joey Allen, general manager of Kings Worldwide Transportation. "It's the way they deliver the service."

Uber is an app that makes money from connecting riders and drivers. Uber says it inspects its drivers' cars. Uber also says the drivers, who work as private subcontractors, undergo a company background check.

"[The drivers are] people just trying to earn an extra buck," said Andrew Macdonald, Uber Midwest regional general manager. "They're entrepreneurs."

The Oklahoma City Police Department believes Uber is operating as a transportation company, even though it claims to be a technology company. Police are expecting Uber to abide by the same rules as traditional taxi cab companies. Currently, that's not happening. Uber is not registered with the city and is not being regulated. The local transportation industry says it is creating an unequal playing field.

"We spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year making sure that our fleet and that our chauffeurs are meeting the city's requirements and that we're keeping the traveling public safe," Allen said.

Uber officials say it's not uncommon to experience pushback in a new market. They say they are still optimistic about Oklahoma City.

"By and large, cities embrace Uber once they understand it," Macdonald said. " … once they realize that consumers love it and drivers make more money."

Police will not cite Uber drivers until at least next month. That's when city leaders and lawyers hope to make a final decision on if the new venture violates city law.

Uber is headquartered in San Francisco and started as a luxury black-car service in 2009.

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