Two Uber drivers were ticketed in Fayetteville over the weekend for operating without a taxi permit.
The ride-sharing company, which launched in Fayetteville last month, uses smartphones to connect drivers to people who need rides as an alternative to calling a traditional taxi service.
The service has been the subject of controversy in some cities where operating a taxi service without proper permits is a violation of local ordinances.
In Fayetteville, taxi companies must first obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity before going into business. That process requires: an annual taxicab permit; state-authorized liability insurance; a radio dispatch system; vehicle inspections; and eventually, a public hearing and final approval from the City Council. Drivers themselves must obtain an individual permit, submit to a police background check, and install a sign with the word “taxicab” or “taxi” on the roof of their vehicle.
Uber has not met any of those requirements, nor have any of its drivers.
City Attorney Kit Williams said he sent letters to Uber and its main competitor, Lyft, earlier this year warning the companies about Fayetteville’s taxicab laws, but neither company responded.
Williams said unless the City Council changes the rules, any Uber driver working in Fayetteville would be operating illegally.
Fayetteville police used the Uber app on Saturday night to arrange for a ride from Aaron Welch, 31, of Rogers, near the corner of West Avenue and Lafayette Street. When Welch arrived driving a 2013 Hyundai Sonata, they issued him citations for operating without a taxi permit, operating without a taxi inspection decal, and operating without a certificate of public convenience and necessity. He faces $185 in fines.
Fayetteville Police Sgt. Craig Stout said another Uber driver was cited after an officer spotted his vehicle holding up traffic on West Avenue at around 1 a.m. Sunday. The officer reportedly overheard the driver talking with a potential Uber customer. Juan Mendez-Grijalva, 25, of Springdale, was cited for impeding traffic, operating without a taxi permit, operating without a taxi inspection decal, and operating without a certificate of public convenience and necessity. Mendez-Grijalva was driving a 2013 Kia Optima. He faces $330 in fines.