VIRGINIA

Lyft, Uber pledge to continue operations in Va. despite cease-and-desist order

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ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - Uber and Lyft car services are often seen driving around, looking for customers who have ordered their services -- but today, someone will be looking for them.

A woman gets into an Uber car she used her phone app to hire. (AP Photo)

Arlington County police say they will be out in full force Friday, on the lookout for the car-sharing companies after a cease and desist order was issued by the Virginia Department of Moter Vehicles on Thursday.

However, we still had no trouble ordering an Uber in Rosslyn on Friday.

“People like this service, they always say it's better than cab,” says Fateh El-Ja-Rarri, an UberX driver who adds that Virginia should be praising the app-based service for creating jobs and not trying to shut drivers like himself down.

"I was struggling with the bills, now I'm paying the bills, my rent -- my wife is happy."

Many customers are also in full support of the company's continued operations -- even sharing their opinions on Twitter.

But according to the DMV, the companies are illegal and have not received proper authorization from the DMV to operate in the state.

Rachel Holt is Uber’s regional general manager, and says the company has been in talks with the DMV for weeks, trying to resolve regulatory issues. Earlier this year, the Virginia DMV fined Uber and Lyft for operating without proper permits.

In response to the orders, Uber and Lyft have released separate statements:

"Uber has been providing Virginians with safe, affordable and reliable transportation options, so the DMV's actions [Thursday] are shocking and unexpected."

While Lyft said:

"Virginia residents have enthusiastically embraced Lyft as an affordable and reliable transportation alternative that increases safety by going above and beyond what is required by existing transportation services."

Meanwhile, Virginia customers are pondering what they will do when they need a fast and reliable ride somewhere.

"We could just go back to what we did before - just stand on the street and hail a cab," McManus said with a shrug.

Both Uber and Lyft say they will continue normal operations in Virginia because they don't believe they're violating any regulations.

Uber sent an email to all registered customers Friday, saying as much:

"We wanted to write to let you know that Uber will operate as usual, and we plan to continue full-speed ahead with our commitment to providing Virginians access to safe, affordable and reliable rides," the email said. "We are surprised and disappointed by the DMV’s actions, given that Uber has been working with the Virginia government for months to modernize regulations that will put consumer safety first. Virginia should be standing for innovation, consumer choice and job growth."

Uber asked customers to post to social media in support of the service, using the hashtag #VAneedsUber.

On Friday, the Virginia DMV released the following statement:

Virginia DMV supports innovation. The agency has been in communications with UBER and Lyft for months to educate them on Virginia’s law with the goal of bringing them into compliance so that they can operate lawfully in Virginia. During this same period DMV has been charged by the General Assembly to conduct a study of these transportation network companies. We are confident that the solution to transportation network companies operations will come out of the study and we hope that UBER and Lyft will actively participate in the study and be a part of creating the solution. In the meantime, Virginia DMV must fulfill its obligation to highway safety and enforce the law as it is currently written.

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