CA Operators Fire Up To Support Rules Shakeup Of Uber

Martin Romjue
Posted on March 21, 2018
GCLA lobbyist Gregg Cook and group leaders have been steadily meeting with CPUC officials on TNC issues (LCT file photo)

GCLA lobbyist Gregg Cook and group leaders have been steadily meeting with CPUC officials on TNC issues (LCT file photo)

The Greater California Livery Association, which has been leading the state fight against ridehail companies, now sees one of its biggest opportunities for getting Uber to follow all the laws governing ground transportation services.

A commissioner for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), tasked with investigating and making a proposal on regulating Uber, released it on March 19 concluding Uber should be classified as a charter-party carrier, a transportation category known as TCP that includes all chauffeured fleet services. The CPUC is scheduled to consider the proposal at its April 26 board meeting in San Francisco. Until then, the agency is taking comments from all interested parties.

"This will be a big battle," said Gregg Cook of Government Affairs Consulting in Sacramento, the lobbying firm retained by the GCLA to advcoate for operators. "We’re talking about significant amounts of money. Uber will fight it. It's dramatic in terms of saying to Uber you need to be operating as a TNC and as a TCP."

The propsal spurs crucial questions, Cook said. "If Uber must be licensed as a TCP operator, do they fall under all the other requirements that our guys do? Yes, I think they do. This is a critically important shot across the bow of Uber. They can no longer sit behind their shell game of numerous entities and subsidiaries so they can skirt appropriate California regulation and fees."

LCT background article here

For the GCLA, the timing couldn't be better since it already had scheduled a series of member meetings in April in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and then two more in May in Orange County and in San Diego. DETAILS HERE

GCLA executive director Tom Garrett will be hosting member meetings on April 10 in Los Angeles and on April 17 in San Francisco (LCT file photo)

GCLA executive director Tom Garrett will be hosting member meetings on April 10 in Los Angeles and on April 17 in San Francisco (LCT file photo)

"The GCLA legislative committee will be working with the five PUC commissioners to help ensure the proposed decision is approved," said Tom Garrett, executive director of the GCLA. Garrett will put the matter on the top of the meeting agendas. "We encourage all members and non-members to attend the free local GCLA event in their areas. These meetings are a great way to learn about the industry, network, and get involved."

The proposal, written by Commissioner Liane Randolph, evolved partly because of the GCLA's continued push to make legislators and regulators aware of the disparities between legal, licensed charter party carriers and TNCs like Uber.

"One of the reasons the CPUC is picking the industry apart is because the GCLA has been so interested, engaged, and talking with people everywhere," Cook said. "We've been meeting with regulators, legislators, and the labor commission."

Cook said past conversations with Randolph and other CPUC officials have centered on two things: 1) The fact that the CPUC has amassed about $20 million in fees, paid by charter party carriers, to be used on enforcement, 2) Why enforcement is so important given that many TNC drivers operate illegally.

"The money is sitting there and CPUC is not responding to current law to do enforcement at airports," Cook said. "We wanted to boost those enforcement personnel because of a survey done as a direct result of GCLA engagement that resulted in a study that said they needed to increase enforcement."

During those conversations about enforcement, the subject of TNC operation came up, Cook said. "We talked about why we need enforcement and how TNCs are operating illegally or inappropriately. We've been on record in the past and publicly regarding the TCP industry and the fact that TNCs are a sub-category and need to be complying fully with the law."

However, Cook cautioned the proposal only applies to Uber, and not the other 11 TNCs operating in California which were not examined part of the CPUC's review. Although CPUC approval of the proposal would make it state law, Uber could try to appeal it to the California State Supreme Court, and is almost certain to mount an intense legal and lobbying campaign against the proposal until April 26.

"We have been throwing these darts and one of them hit the bullseye for now," Cook said. "Hopefully other darts start hitting the bullseye as well."

Related Topics: California operators, Greater California Livery Association, Gregg Cook, lobbying, regulatory enforcement, state regulations, TNCs, Uber

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Chuck Cotton

     | about 3 years ago

    Someone first needs to ask the question Is the State of California exempt from U.S.Code 49, FMCSA Sec. 300-399 and particularly 390.5. ? TNCs are not taxicabs but car services operating private sedans, SUVs, and vans with private drivers all with NO OPERATING AUTHORITY. CFR49 applies to all 50 states. Federal laws are clear, violations are many to all those who refuse to comply. Federal law supersedes state laws. I find no exemption for the State of California to allow TNC operators and vehicles to first circumvent any federal transportation law, any FTC Act violations, any federal tax issues, any SEC securities requirements ( where is CA Dept of Securities on all the stock sales ? ) and where is the CA AG on the state RICO violations and unfair competition laws? There are so many issues and concerns to be addressed but first Uber, LYFT and all TNCS must comply with Federal law and obtain MC and USDOT permits, Primary commercial public auto liability insurance on each driver and vehicle as they currently classify themselves as independent livery operators. This is the first requirement for the CPUC to address.

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