CA Proposal Could Be Silver Bullet Aimed At Uber

Martin Romjue
Posted on March 19, 2018
Uber may no longer be as cheap if a CPUC adopts a proposed rulemaking order on April 26. ( Creative Commons image)

Uber may no longer be as cheap if a CPUC adopts a proposed rulemaking order on April 26. ( Creative Commons image)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- Uber Technologies Inc should be classified as the same type of transportation as limousines and tour buses, a California regulator said on Monday in a proposal that could change how the ride-hailing company is regulated in its home state. A commissioner for the California Public Utilities Commission, who had been tasked with investigating and formulating a proposal on regulating Uber, said in her proposed decision that the San Francisco-based company should be classified as a charter-party carrier, a transportation category known as TCP.

U.S. News/Reuters item here

Full CPUC resolution here

From LCT:

What Proposal Could Mean For Industry

In an interview March 19, National Limousine Association President Gary Buffo said the proposal could be the most far-reaching and consequential development ever in getting Uber regulated like charter party carriers. It could also heavily influence a federal judge's expected ruling in a class-action driver lawsuit on whether Uber drivers should be classified as W-2 employees, and therefore entitled to back wages while Uber would have to pay back FICA and workers' comp costs. If so, the financial hit to Uber could be staggering, Buffo said.

The back fees owed to the CPUC alone would be .0033% of total Uber revenues in the state going back years, along with any penalty fees and/or fines, Buffo said.

A CPUC approval of the proposal could also bring about a "2,000% increase" in insurance costs for Uber, which now skirts the $1.5 million per vehicle/per incident minimum applied to charter-party chaffeured and limousine commercial fleet vehicles in California, Buffo said.

"This is absolutely justice served in the state of California," Buffo told LCT. "They have been operating illegally from day one, never complied with anything, and always played the lobbying game. I think the CPUC absolutely has done the right thing." The proposal was researched and authored by CPUC Commissioner Liane Randolph.

Buffo is urging members of the NLA and the Greater California Livery Association to inundate the CPUC with emails, calls and letters supporting the resolution when the official comment period starts April 16 in the lead up to the pivotal April 26 CPUC Board of Commissioners meeting. He warned that Uber and its well-funded lobbying and public relations efforts will mount an all-out offensive against the proposal.

""The more pressure we put on them, the more likely this decision gets set in stone," Buffo said. "I think what will happen if it's approved, is other states will follow. Uber and Lyft and other TNCs still do not comply with anything in other states, and still have major safety issues. There is tons of evidence in the proposal. I don’t see how anyone in right mind can say rule against this."

A favorable CPUC decision also could boost NLA lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill when the trade group convenes industry leaders in Washington, D.C., May 21-23.

"I think we would get a direct meeting with numerous departments on the federal level, and the discussions could change opinions and result in federal rulemaking or a federal decision," Buffo said. "At least we would have their ear."

Related: Self Driving Car Kills Pedestrian

Related Topics: California operators, Gary Buffo, Greater California Livery Association, regulatory enforcement, TNCs, Uber

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 3 )
  • Philip Macafee

     | about 3 years ago

    I have read the proposed ruling and cannot figure out how Uber Technologies can hold both a TCP and a TNC permit at the same time. Their current TCP services are provided by licensed TCP California carriers with their own insurance. Can Uber just move the current insurance policies from the subsidiaries and both cover one corporate entity? It would seem that the costs would remain about the same. Does LCT magazine have connections to legal scholars or regulatory experts that can give a fair assessment of the implications of this proposed ruling?

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