Hailing a cab with the tap of a finger is becoming a reality for Montanans. A new set of rules approved by regulators Tuesday brings the state one step closer.
Companies like Uber and Lyft were banned in Montana until this spring when a Senate bill passed. This bill no longer allows taxi and limousine operators to block competitors. So far only one company, Uber, has applied. Communications director for Uber, Kate Downen, says there is already demand here in Montana.
“We know that people in Montana want Uber," Downen says. "We’ve had a number of conversations with folks across the state. We know that folks in Montana are opening up the app and looking for the safe, reliable rides that Uber offers."
But Uber has some time and obstacles before finishing the permitting process. Eric Sell of the Public Service Commission says that companies are still allowed to protest any application.
Sell says, “But because that has been changed by the legislature the protest period isn't quite as important as it once was. But it still allows other companies to view an application and provide input on that application."
Sell says anyone can protest an application, but usually it’s other carriers providing their point of view or supporters.
Official regulations are estimated to be in place August 27 and Uber’s application will be reviewed around the same time. Sell says the application will likely be noticed the first week in September and then a 20-day protest period begins.