BY: Citizens Count
The arrival of ride-sharing service Uber in New Hampshire has come with a spirited debate about the tension between free enterprise and public safety.
Portsmouth scheduled a public hearing on the issue Wednesday, January 14.
Uber allows ordinary drivers to offer rides to other travelers and charge a fee through a smart phone app. Uber argues their ride-sharing model is fundamentally different from a taxi service, and therefore should not be subject to taxi regulations.
Officials in Manchester and Portsmouth disagree. They argue Uber drivers are transporting passengers for a fee - the essence of a taxi service. By disregarding taxi regulations, Uber is putting passengers at risk.
Regulations include random drug tests, an examination of driving and criminal records, car inspections, and more. Several sexual assault cases nationwide have drawn attention to the risk for female passengers in Uber vehicles.
Uber counters that all of their drivers must pass a background check, and vehicles must be inspected according to state law.
Not all city officials oppose Uber. Portsmouth Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine told Seacoast Online that Uber is "good for business, good for consumers," and residents should not fear change.