Some Jurisdictions Work with Ride-Sharing Companies, Some Fight the Trend

Connecticut regulations hold Lyft, Uber drivers to the same standards as taxis, while two council members in Milwaukee are drafting legislation that drastically changes the city's current system.

by / May 14, 2014

At the end of April, we looked at how ride-sharing was making friends in some jurisdictions and enemies in others -- and the trend is continuing.

On May 9, Uber launched In Kansas City, according to The Kansas City Star, and it was amid a ride-sharing fight: The Star reported on May 13 that government officials are going to court to try to halt Lyft from operating in the city.

It's not that Kansas City is against ride-sharing, however. Spokesman Chris Hernandez put the situation in perspective by saying that the city wouldn’t just trust restaurants to police themselves, and also won’t do that for ride-sharing services, the Star reported. So as long as Lyft, UberX and other such services will comply with a few reasonable rules and pay their licensing fees, he told the news outlet, they can then operate legally in Kansas City.

In a similar vein, Connecticut has adopted new insurance requirements for drivers, holding them to the same set of standards as taxi cabs and limo operators, reported. So anyone who is dispatched by a centralized routing system and charges folks for a ride must carry livery insurance on top of their personal liability coverage.

But about 1,000 miles north west in Milwaukee, two council members are drafting legislation that lifts the cap on the number of taxicab vehicle permits and opens the door to new smartphone app services such as Uber and Lyft, which are already available in the city, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The proposal, which was expected to go before the city's Public Transportation Review Board on Friday May 9, represents a major change over the current system, and Common Council President Michael Murphy, who is co-sponsoring the proposal with Alderman Robert Bauman, told the Journal Sentinel that it was time to end the monopolies a relatively few number of cab companies have over the number of taxicab permits.

While officials are in the process of revamping policies in Columbus, Ohio, Lyft and UberX are considered black-market taxis, and officials plan to ticket drivers -- at least until two lawsuits are resolved and the city finishes writing its regulations, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The reason for this tactic in Columbus is the same as elsewhere -- the city’s draft regulations are designed to ensure that drivers and riders are adequately covered by insurance in a crash, City Councilman Zach M. Klein to the Dispatch.

The regulations would:

  • require drivers to be licensed by the city
  • require drivers to submit to third-party vehicle inspections and background checks;
  • require the companies to carry insurance that is effective from the moment the driver starts using the app; and
  • require that the companies cut from their terms of service any clause that limits their liability in crashes.

Klein told the Dispatch that he wants the City Council to see the regulations as soon as possible, but he won’t “sacrifice safety for expediency.”