By on February 16, 2014


Ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have gained traction among those who prefer using their smartphones to hail a ride to the airport over traditional black car or taxi service. However, in locales such as Detroit, Atlanta and Seattle, such services are rolling up upon a regulatory traffic jam over how best to handle the disruption in the livery industry.

The issues at hand, as noted by Detroit Free Press, GeekWire and The Daily Caller, include surge-pricing (taxi and limo operators can only charge a constant fare at all times), Uber’s introduction of UberX, where customers can hail a lift from a driver using their personal vehicle (Uber’s standard service utilizes those with hack licenses), mandating commercial insurance for UberX drivers, who only have personal-grade policies for their vehicles, and whether or not Uber and companies like it are solely tech companies or transportation providers in determining what regulations apply.

In Detroit, state and city officials have demanded Uber to register with MDOT as a limo carrier while requiring UberX drivers to obtain a $300 Certificate of Authority and $110 limo operator’s license to be in compliance with current law, neither of which has happened thus far. Officials in Georgia, however, aim to take regulation of the nascent reinvention further with Georgia House Bill 907. The bill not only brings Uber et al in line with everyone else, but as far as using apps to request rides are concerned:

The use of Internet or cellular telephone software to calculate rates shall not be permitted unless such software companies complies with and conforms to the weights and measures standards of the local government that licenses such taxi service.

Washington State’s House Bill 2782, on the other hand, aims to help level the playing field through a more sane approach:

The legislature finds that Washingtonians are early adopters of technology and have come to rely on services provided by mobile application-based personal transportation services. The legislature further finds that a piecemeal approach to regulating such services could result in a patchwork of conflicting standards, stifle innovation, and reduce consumer choice.

The enacted bill would allow for a study to be conducted by the end of 2014, with a framework established the following year. The framework, according to Washington Policy Center director Bob Pishue, would supercede local regulations such as those the Seattle City Council would like to impose upon Uber et al, and that HB2782 is focused on the consumer than on the taxi companies.


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16 Comments on “Uber, Other Rideshare Services Caught In Regulatory Backup...”

  • avatar

    Yup. If you think this is bad, just think about the difficulties going forward in finding legislative solutions to autonomous vehicles and the questions they bring.

    Cue rent-seeking from the taxi industry in 3, 2, 1…

    • 0 avatar

      Well as far as I’m concerned, the autonomous vehicles is never gonna happen – or at least – it won’t happen until true Artificial Intelligence becomes a reality. Artificial Intelligence should be able to solve fusion power and flying cars – maybe even time travel and warp drive.

      But I sincerely think that’s a ways off.

      • 0 avatar

        What are your main concerns with the feasibility. Technical or legal?

        I’m just pretty convinced it’s coming within the next 10 years due to the advances we’re seeing in lane departure and cruise control technologies. Additionally, the several billion dollars in wages we spend on taxi and truck drivers gives some smart person/company somewhere a lot of incentive to get them deployed.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree. Connecting GPS, Radar Cruise Control, Lane Keeper, Eyesight and all of the other driver aids is just a matter of time. I see it this way: human drives around town with complex street layouts, pedestrians, etc and car drives on long highway stretches.

          • 0 avatar

            Do you have difficulty reading? BTS said it wasn’t going to happen. Ergo, it’s not going to happen.
            What more can he do to spell it out for you, write in all caps?

  • avatar

    ” state and city officials have demanded Uber to register with MDOT as a limo carrier while requiring UberX drivers to obtain a $300 Certificate of Authority and $110 limo operator’s license to be in compliance with current law”

    So nothing about being safe or qualified to run the business, they just have to grease the palms of government officials.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you sure that the Cert of Auth and the limo license do not require vehicle inpections and addl driver testing? I know that the IL CDL requires addl testing.

    • 0 avatar

      Oy. These certs include background (criminal and drug) checks of chauffeurs/drivers, being in compliance with vehicle age and maintenance, and having the proper amount of insurance. Legal transportation services have to pony up the $400+ each year for this to happen, but that’s just the tip of iceberg when it comes to costs. I’ll bite my tongue cause you sound uneducated on the process, but now you have the facts of why the transportation industry is frustrated.

  • avatar

    Always about the $$$

    Never take from the government. They own your ass and most don’t know it. And Washington is one of the worst offenders.

    We, for years, have called it ‘The Soviet State of Washington’. Sales Taxes, personal property taxes, etc. and overbearing police enforcement. You can actually go to jail in Washington for not paying your sales taxes in a timely manner.

    • 0 avatar

      “Always about the $$$”

      Says the man who won’t buy a Ferrari until it depreciates to his liking. And won’t purchase an expensive car because it’s a depreciating asset.

    • 0 avatar

      “We, for years, have called it ‘The Soviet State of Washington’. ”

      And by doing so have demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding about the reality of life in the Soviet Union and/or a tendency for inaccurate hyperbole.

      I don’t see why there is any need to protect the limo and cab services from competition. If their requirement for fixed pricing is an issue, then get rid of fixed pricing for limos and cabs.

      • 0 avatar

        i dont think is really kosher to dismantle one industry for another.
        these limo and taxi folks did invested some good change to try to make a living.
        by and large taxi drivers were last refuge for aspiring students or transients to drive.
        Just 200 miles north of seattle namely Vancouver, our taxis were all run by ethnic minorities. Most le Blancs were not as persevere to wait around all day for a small trip.

        Not trying to protect them, criminal checks and chauffeur lic are a must if to operate an limos or taxis.

        • 0 avatar

          People had substantial investments in Blockbuster movie rental locations, and these storefronts also employed students and other whose job prospects were limited.

          Do you contend that Netflix should not have been permitted to dismantle Blockbuster, despite having a better service that customers preferred?

  • avatar

    This is like the buggy whip makers trying to legislate the early car out of existence. Just because you have a business, there is no guarantee that a better way of doing things will not come along and wipe you out. Trying to have the government squash your competition is the American way. But, it does not mean that it is right.

  • avatar

    Rent seeking or not, this is an important point about UberX:

    “mandating commercial insurance for UberX drivers, who only have personal-grade policies for their vehicles,”

    As soon as an UberX driver with only a personal auto policy is in a crash or is sued, what do you believe the insurer is going to do?

    Cancel, as most “personal policies” do not cover commercial use such as UberX. Contrast to Lyft, which appears to provide its drivers with some kind of coverage.

    UberX drivers seem to be skating on thin ice, insurance wise.


    PS. I do not have a dog in this fight.

  • avatar

    It would seem that requiring insurance and a business license to operate a livery vehicle should be mandatory. I wouldn’t view that as protectionism more or less just common sense. Really it’s just everyone playing by the same rules. Now you ban obviously take that too far.

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