She declined to specify how many Uber drivers and riders use the app in Baltimore, only to say that "today, in Baltimore, Uber has hundreds of driver-partners and tens of thousands of users who rely on the Uber platform."

The number of trips booked through the app had nearly doubled over the past three months, she said.

Sen. Delores G. Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat, said she thought it was "unconscionable" to not regulate rates. At a recent work session on the issue, Kelley rejected the contention from Lyft and Uber that it's a matter of consumer choice about whether to use the application to book a ride and they won't do it if the price is too high.

"We regulate all sorts of things because the general public is not smart enough to know when they're about to be fleeced," Kelley said.

Chadwick Frazier, a 33-year-old from Essex, said he's used Lyft about 15 times since it launched in Baltimore in October.

"My wife and I, we can drive into the city, park at a friend's house, and then call for a Lyft and go pretty much anywhere," he said.

Frazier applied for — and was awarded — status as a Lyft driver. He has another job and has no plans to ever become a full-time cabdriver. If Lyft were turned into a cab company, he said, it would eliminate consumer choice.

"I've never been picked up by a cab," Frazier said. "I've been picked up by different people by their own cars. It's like being picked up by a friend."

Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, a Democrat and chair of the Finance Committee, said it may be too soon to pass laws on such businesses, but regulations are coming sooner or later as lawmakers try to strike a balance between consumer demand and public safety.

"People love Uber, but there are some legitimate concerns," he said. "There's got to be some regulation, hopefully not over-regulation."

ecox@baltsun.com