California's Passes Regulations on Ride-Sharing Services


Ben Bergman of KPCC is reporting on his twitter feed that California's Public Utilities Commission has unanimously passed regulations on ride-sharing services such as

 Uber and Lyft.

Some details from San Diego Union Tribune (from yesterday, before the regs apparently passed):

Ridesharing companies say their self-policing is rigorous and that traditional competitors are just worried about a superior model of business that targets tech-savvy passengers. But there are no statewide rules requiring a DMV or criminal background check for drivers. And no agency ensures these businesses charge consistent fares or regularly inspect and maintain their vehicles.

Such concerns have led to lawsuits and other efforts to stop or curtail ridesharing in certain regions, including San Diego County and Los Angeles. The California Public Utilities Commission is the first statewide body in the United States to consider comprehensive regulation of this industry.

In December 2012, the agency began drafting a host of proposed rules on safety, training and other operations. The five-member commission, which oversees everything from railroads to power companies, is scheduled to discuss the issue on Thursday in San Francisco.

The measure before the CPUC would:

  • Mandate criminal background checks for drivers
  • Establish a driver training program
  • Require drivers to obtain a license through the utilities commission
  • Require companies maintain a minimum $1 million per-incident insurance policy
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol for drivers

Several ridesharing companies reached by U-T San Diego said they've pushed for a streamlined set of rules, but are generally supportive of regulation because it will legitimize their operations.

Reason on ride-share services. It's not unusual for participants in an industry to prefer regulation to fighting off local and state government at every turn; that doesn't necessarily mean its better for consumers.