California Approves Ride-Sharing Services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar

lyft_car_on_roadSo here’s the deal. If for some reason you find yourself without a car, or need to find a ride in LA, it used to be a somewhat miserable experience. It’s hard to rely on buses, the Metro only has a limited route, and cabs are slow to arrive and expensive.

When ride-sharing services started filtering into the city, it was a refreshing and high tech change of pace. Looking for a nicer “Town Car” service, you could fire up Uber, and for those short trips I might’ve called a cab for in the past, Lyft consistently proved faster and nicer. Especially from those ride-sharing folks who really got into it, offering beverages and snacks.

Of course Taxi companies, being somewhat old school, have to follow myriad rules and regulations that their app based counterparts weren’t subject to. Understandably, this has led to friction as established companies feel this gives newer services an unfair advantage. Plus many have brought up safety issues as things like vehicle maintenance and driver background checks aren’t executed in the same fashion as they might be with cabs and divers.

Well now ride-sharing services will be brought under the regulatory control of the Public Utilities Commission which unanimously voted to allow these services to operate. Creating a new classification, “Transportation Network Services”, now drivers will be required to pass background checks, pass training courses, and carry a minimum $1 million liability insurance policy.

This vote by the state government will probably serve as an end-run around cities and smaller communities which were exploring outright bans on ride-sharing. I’m personally glad to see this move, as we can always use a little more competition, and maybe we’ll see traditional taxi services step up their game too. Hopefully this encourages a little more open-mindedness around alternative forms of transportation all around.

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