Sharing Economy

Uber Under Siege

Car-service crackdowns

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The latest municipalities to demand that rideshare services such as Uber cease operating are Anchorage, Alaska, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In Tuscaloosa, drivers who defy the injunction face not just penalties but potential arrest. Virginia already tried to prohibit the company from operating within its borders, a rule reversed in August.

By contrast, both California and Colorado have authorized Uber and similar services to operate legally statewide. However, Los Angeles and San Francisco think that Uber is violating aspects of California's regulations and have threatened the company with injunctions. And as of mid-October, the service was operating in Pennsylvania only under emergency temporary authority of the state's Public Utilities Commission, awaiting a final ruling.

Uber may have an ally in the world of academia. The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business recently surveyed a panel of economists on the issue. They all said letting rideshare services compete on an equal footing with traditional taxi companies "raises consumer welfare." Six in 10 said they agreed strongly with the claim-not that regulators in Anchorage and Tuscaloosa are likely to care.