Regulations

If It's Not A Limo And Not A Taxi, Then What Is It?

Posted on July 31, 2013

Lyft may pride itself on being funky, silly, quirky, but a proposed CPUC ruling on ride-share on-demand app-based transportation services says not so fast; they are somewhere between a cab and a charter party.
Lyft may pride itself on being funky, silly, quirky, but a proposed CPUC ruling on ride-share on-demand app-based transportation services says not so fast; they are somewhere between a cab and a charter party.

[UPDATED 7/31/13, 2:20 p.m. PDT/5:20 p.m. EDT]

The California Public Utilities Commission has issued a proposed ruling on ride-sharing companies, which would create a new category of “transportation network company” (TNC) to cover startups such as Lyft, SideCar and Uber.

The new category will be separate from its existing “transportation charter party” category. Overall, the changes would make these services legal in California, which would be a major advance for ride-sharing in general and these companies in particular. While the startups did not get everything they wanted, there is much for them to like in the proposed ruling.

Mark Stewart, the president of the Greater California Livery Association, told LCT on Wednesday that the proposed ruling is not clear on how specific rules would apply to charter party carriers such as chauffeured transportation companies and this new category, known as TNCs. A key question of whether TNCs would need to get more expensive commercial vehicle insurance or if they could simply boost coverages on individual personal vehicle insurance policies. The GCLA also seeks answers on whether TNCs would need livery license plates and if airports could make their own sets of rules and regulations that apply to TNCs.

"If we put someone on a level playing field, then it has to be across the board," Stewart said. "The PUC has not clarified those items. This does not still address the whole issue. We need clarity and want it to be seen in black and white. . Will they have a PUC license on the bumper? Are the vehicles commercially registered?"

The GCLA will be reaching out to LAX, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the Taxi Limousine Paratransit Association, and the Taxi Paratransit Association of California to grow support for seeking such clarity for rules as they apply to limos, taxis and TNCs. Public and industry comments on the proposed plan are due Aug. 19.

The GCLA is holding a special meeting Aug. 20 to address the issue of mobile app-based on-demand transportation services and how state regulations of NPTs and charter party carriers will affect the chauffeured transportation industry.

Forbes Magazine article here.

-- Martin Romjue, LCT editor

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