The California Public Utilities Commission has approved regulations governing “transportation network companies,” formerly and informally known as the “ride-sharing” business. The vote was unanimous.
The rules were first proposed in July. A final vote was originally scheduled for Sept. 5 but was delayed, giving hope to some in the taxi industry, which vehemently opposes any official sanction of competition from what many have considered to be operating “bandit cabs.”
The new rules require TNCs to be licensed by the CPUC. They will have to run background checks on drivers, institute driver-training programs and meet expanded insurance requirements, as well as maintain a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol. There are also requirements for accommodating disabled passengers and servicing poorer neighborhoods.
But the advent of these services, which allow passengers to hire private drivers through online applications, has disrupted the taxi industry, and the new mandates are unlikely to appease traditional cab drivers who have seen a sharp drop in income in cities in which the companies operate.
TNCs like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber hailed the rules when they were first proposed, as they gave them, for the first time, the legal right to operate in California.