Uber headquarters, San Francisco. Photo / AP
Uber picked up a hefty tab Thursday when a judge fined the
taxi-alternative’s California subsidiary $7.3 million (NZ$11.1 million)
for refusing to give state regulators information about its business
practices, including when its drivers turn down ride requests and how
accessible vehicles are to disabled riders.
The fine was part of a
ruling by an administrative law judge at the California Public
Utilities Commission, the regulatory agency that allowed Uber and its
competitors such as Lyft to operate in the state as long as the
companies reported aspects of their activities.
The judge agreed
with utility commission staff who said Uber’s California subsidiary,
Rasier-CA, has not filed all required reports, specifically about how
often it provided disabled-accessible vehicles, places where drivers
tend to turn down ride requests, and the causes of accidents.
Uber’s app allows passengers to request a ride directly from drivers in the area ” and allows drivers to decline the request.
The utilities commission wants to see whether drivers are accepting fares evenly.
for Rasier-CA had argued that the company provided sufficient
information to the commission. The judge acknowledged that the company
provided some of the contested information but said it was not enough.
a written statement, Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend called the ruling and
fine “deeply disappointing” and said the company would appeal.
has already provided substantial amounts of data to the California
Public Utilities Commission, information we have provided elsewhere with
no complaints,” Behrend wrote, adding that submitting more detailed
information could affect the privacy of passengers and drivers.
a written statement, the utilities commission said Uber was the only
company of its kind not to comply with the reporting requirements.
has previously tussled with public officials. In Portland, Oregon, for
example it had an extended disagreement with the city that led it to
suspend operations. In France, Uber suspended its low-cost service
following an escalating legal dispute and sometimes-violent tensions
with traditional French taxi drivers. French authorities had ordered the
service ” called UberPop ” shut down, but Uber refused, pending a legal
decision at a top French court.