As the popularity of app-driven transportation services like Uber and Lyft grow — Uber provides more than 1 million rides daily worldwide, and Lyft's 100,000 drivers operate in more than 60 U.S. cities — consequences of sustainability, safety, insurance and labor mount. And as regulations governing this industry largely pertain to shrinking limousine and cab businesses, a new report calls for more comprehensive regulations and policies around these services.
The report, written by researchers at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, concludes that policymakers at all levels of government should level the regulatory playing field for app-driven transportation and traditional transportation methods.
The class-action lawsuit against Uber by some of its drivers illuminates a few of the labor issues that can arise without stricter governance. Public safety is likewise impacted by the presence or absence of policies that require a company like Uber to perform background checks on its drivers. These types of regulations and others should be evaluated by multiple layers of government for their potential efficacy and cost, the report suggests.
About 15 million Americans use a wheelchair, cane, crutches or a walker to get around, so issues of accessibility are also at stake, the report points out. Services like Uber also require the use of a credit card, but the report notes that this could be an accessibility issue, as about 8 percent of Americans can't get a credit card. What's more, many Americans don't own smartphones.
There also remains a question of which levels of government are best equipped to regulate the emerging app-driven transportation industry, according to the report, which suggests that planning commissions should take into account these new forms of transportation when making decisions.
The 125-page report can be downloaded for free at nap.edu.