Local taxi drivers size up Uber

Pullman recently loosened background check requirements



Wildcat Taxi is one of several small transportation services operating locally.

LINH NGUYEN, Evergreen reporter

With the loosening of restrictions on ride-sharing apps, some local taxi drivers are concerned that Uber or Lyft may have an unfair advantage.

Owner of WildCat Taxi, a taxi service based in Moscow,  with a license to also run in Pullman, Denise James said she doesn’t see a an increase in Uber or Lyft as a threat to her business in the area.

During a city council meeting earlier this month, Pullman voted to reduce restrictions on background checks, allowing transportation services to operate with only a name-based social security card background check, instead of being fingerprinted.

James, a driver since 2013, expressed the struggles she faced owning a taxi service. Being a single mother, she has experienced the ups and downs of owning a small business.

However, she said, the support from college students and the community has continued to keep her spirits up.

“I know all of the owners, and most of the drivers in this area,” James said. “We take care of the public need here in the Palouse.”

In a forum last spring, Jason Parsley, a driver for College Cabs, expressed his issues regarding ride-sharing companies operating in Pullman.

Parsley said that the complete fingerprint-based and social security background checks should be mandatory for both Uber and taxi drivers.

James said she knows several other taxi drivers who are concerned about Uber’s background check policies being unfair.

Although James said she prefers the previous requirements for taxis, she is not opposed to the changes made by the Pullman City Council in order to include other outside businesses.

“I’m not afraid of Uber or Lyft really,” James said. “We are just as affordable, if not cheaper — and people really love us. We welcome anyone else, as long as they play [by] the same rules.”

A representative from Uber could not be reached for comment.