Uber sues St. Louis Taxicab Commission; now offering services without approval

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CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) - Uber filed a federal lawsuit against the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab commission Friday morning and will now launch its services without approval.  According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the lawsuit alleges anti-competitive practices in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

St. Louis is the largest metropolitan area in the country not to allow Uber-X. But there is still an effort underway to change that. The Uber debate will resume Friday morning.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission will met 10am in the county council chambers. Once again the Uber question is on the agenda.

Uber's service known as Uber-X is a way to hire a ride by using a smart phone app to arrange the pickup by a driver using their own car. After a year of wrangling, Uber has yet to come to an agreement with the Taxi Cab Commission to do business in the St. Louis area.

Friday the Commission will consider proposed amendments to the vehicle-for-hire code as it relates to ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. The biggest problem is that commissioners feel Uber's safety checks are too weak. Particularly when it comes to fingerprinting its drivers who typically only drive less than six hours a week.

Uber insists its background checks are tough enough and calls the idea of fingerprinting drivers a burden and claim its a deal breaker. Taxi Commission Chairman Lou Hamilton is among the commissioners who says state law does not allow the commission to waive the fingerprint requirement.

The Taxicab Commission has backed down from its demand that Uber-X drivers be drug tested, even though conventional cabdrivers have to undergo both fingerprinting and drug testing.

The General Manager of Uber in St. Louis says the proposal before the Commission Friday is essentially the same framework that was tabled in July... and says the amendments are "A last ditch effort to protect taxi drivers from competition, and it's wrong."