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.

A protester mocks Lyft and its signature pink mustaches at a cab driver rally outside San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday, July 30. (Alex Emslie/KQED)

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.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor