"Ride on Boise," Boise said on its app New Year's Eve. "Starting today [Dec. 31], your rides will be charged to the credit card you have on file."
Several drivers were logged in and available to pick up customers throughout the evening on New Year's Eve.
Things took a turn Wednesday when the city issued a cease-and-desist order
against Urber, claiming company officials had ignored a good-faith commitment to not charge for driver services while continuing to negotiate with the city for an operating agreement.
An Uber spokesman told Boise Weekly
that the cease-and-desist was "unfortunate" and that the city was "seeking to limit access to safe rides on a night when impaired driving rates are at their highest."
But officials at City Hall said Uber can't charge customers until the city finalizes its ride-share policies and urged residents not to do business with the company. In a worst case scenario, Uber drivers risk a citation that could cost them $1,000 or even six months behind bars for operating without a business license.
The controversy gained steam when a reporter for KIVI-TV secured a ride with Uber earlier this week and was charged $5. That reporter later said that he "alerted" city officials of the incident.
broke the news of the cease-and-desist order Wednesday, the story went viral, generating robust online dialogue:
"Uber isn't going anywhere they have too much momentum, brand recognition and funding," Josh McDaniel wrote on Facebook.
"I'm glad they're holding Uber to basic safety standards," wrote Annie Berical.
"I don't need a city bureaucrat protecting me from a service I want to use," added George Wing.
"I understand Uber is great but they knew the rules and failed to follow them," said Ron Folsom.
"Good luck stopping them," wrote Taylor Newbold.
Idaho Freedom Foundation
President Wayne Hoffman was anxious to weigh in, saying, "The move will hurt Uber drivers who are merely trying to earn a living by offering safe, efficient, low-cost transportation to people who need it. Denying people a means of income and a choice of transportation seems a rather poor way to start 2015."
Uber freely admits that it is charging customers in Boise in spite of the fact that Boise city officials are threatening to slap the app-driven ride-sharing program with citations for pulling in income without an operating agreement.