Mears, other taxi services not happy with Uber ride-sharing program in Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

The city of Orlando is cracking down on Uber, a new type of underground taxi service whose drivers are operating without licenses.

The Orlando Police Department began ticketing Uber drivers and impounding their vehicles Tuesday night.

Uber is billed as a faster and cheaper alternative to traditional taxi service, and Mayor Buddy Dyer said he's open to accommodate the service, which is popular in many cities.

With their iPhone app, travelers can see where drivers are in relation to their locations, but taxi service Mears said the cheaper ride could cost people their safety.

"What Uber did was they came to town and violated the law," said Mears' Vice President of Transportation in Central Florida Roger Chapin.

Mears and other vehicle-for-hire companies pay $1 million a year to the city in license and permit fees. So far, Uber pays nothing, claiming it is a ride-sharing business and not a vehicle-for-hire business.

Chapin said Uber shouldn't be allowed to not pay the fees that go toward enforcing the laws that regulate the industry.

"The ordinances are to make sure there's health, safety and access for all people," he said.

For the first time since Uber started operating without licenses in Orlando, the company's executives sat down with Dyer. After that meeting, Dyer sounded ready to figure out a compromise.

"It would take a substantial re-write of our vehicle-for-hire code. I think it's appropriate to do that," he said.

In the meantime, Dyer said OPD is in the process of impounding Uber vehicles, which are the drivers' personal vehicles.