Uruguay's Capital Says Uber Needs Government Approval to Operate

  • Montevideo govt views Uber as public transportation provider
  • Uber caught regulators flatfooted launching service Thursday

A week after Montevideo taxi drivers blocked streets and gate crashed an Uber driver training course, the city administration said Uber Technologies Inc. would require government approval to operate. The company started its service anyway.

Montevideo will enforce its transportation rules, which include sanctions such as confiscating the license plates of vehicles caught providing unauthorized services, the capital’s legal affairs director, Ernesto Beltrame, told reporters.

"We live under the rule of law where everyone should respect the rules,” Beltrame said. “We can’t allow the legal system to be trampled on.”

Uber started operations at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, even after the local government sent the company a warning letter, said an official at the local media relations company representing Uber. Taxis and city bus companies oppose Uber, which they say offers the same services, but without the costly regulations incumbents face. The stakes are especially high for taxi owners who pay as much as $100,000 for a license.

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