New transit service Uber could run into legal troubles

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's a new way to get around the Capital City and it has created a lot of buzz.

The new transit company, Uber, launched services in four cities across South Carolina. The service they provide is similar to a taxi as riders can request and pay to be picked up by drivers using an app on their smartphones. Drivers use their personal cars to get people from point A to point B for lower, flatter rates.

"They're all based on GPS coordinates," Will Guernier said. "The driver will come take you where ever you need to go."

State managers for Uber said that business is already booming since the launch of their services in South Carolina both from riders and people looking to be drivers for the company.

"You're able to open the app," Guernier explained," set your location on a map and hit a button and have a car show up five minutes later to take you where you need to go."

However, conventional cab companies feel the new company is bucking the system.

"The way they're going about it is illegal," Kyle Lacio said. "They're claiming that they're not a taxi business, but they do everything as a taxi business."

Lacio and drivers like him said they see Uber as nothing more than a black market cab service. The State says they are operating without necessary permits.

"The risk is on the driver," Lacio said. "You can't just pick up taxis in a personal vehicle the way that they're trying to do it."

State officials agree. The Office of Regulatory Staff recently filed a petition challenging the legal standing of Uber rides. They believe the company has shown no compliance with state standards for drivers as well as vehicle safety standards.

Officials with Uber said they only see this action as a small bump to rolling out their service in South Carolina.

"We're excited in the coming months to be able to work with local officials to be able to help them better understand what this is and how it's different," Guernier said.

Still, the question of whether the new service will run into legal troubles lingers.