September 18, 2015
Uber has had a pretty huge week of news. Not only did they get the official green light to roll out services in Las Vegas, they just announced today that they’ll be hitting the St. Louis area as well. While they successfully capped off a long and arduous legal battle in Las Vegas, Uber simultaneously opened and dumped a massive can of worms on St. Louis.
St. Louis has been very resistant to the idea of ridesharing programs for some time now. Last year a judge filed an injunction that barred Lyft from operating in the city. So, what’s made Uber think they have a legitimate shot at the market segment?
Honestly, it’s a sense of frustration. Uber has been running into resistance from local regulators whom stand staunchly opposed to the majority of St. Louis residents’ opinions for implementing the ridesharing platform.
That’s why, earlier today, they decided to pull the trigger on launching UberX in St. Louis. There’s a catch though: they didn’t seek any kind of regulatory approval from the Metropolitan Taxi Commission (MTC), and have gone so far as to file a lawsuit against them claiming antitrust violations.
“After more than a year of delays and maneuvers designed to block rideshare services from St. Louis, today’s events come as a last resort to provide residents with the same transportation options they have in other cities,” says the Uber team.
It’s a really gutsy move, and not just because they’re launching without MTC approval. With their launch, Uber is potentially putting every single driver in the St. Louis area at risk: they’ll all be susceptible to police arrests and will have to deal with restrictions nearly everywhere in the city.
Regardless, it’s set in stone at this point and there’s no going back. Personally I’m torn. On one hand I think it’s a really good move because St. Louis is the biggest city in the US that doesn’t have UberX services. At the same time though, I think Uber might have been a bit too heavy handed in their approach strategy.
At least Uber has some support from Mayor Francis Slay as they move forward, and they’ve got the voice of the people on their side which counts for a lot.
“St. Louisans deserve flexible economic opportunities and safe, affordable transportation options,” reads the official blog post by Uber.
Only time will tell if it works out, and we’ll keep you up to date. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you think about this – good move or bad move for Uber?
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