Lawmakers in Olympia, Washington, said that they have introduced a new bill that would regulate app-based ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, media reports said Monday. In Seattle, the regulation could replace an earlier agreement, brokered by Mayor Ed Murray and passed by the city council in July, which had lifted the cap on the number of cars each company could retain while also awarding new licenses for taxis.
The new proposal, Senate Bill 5550, introduced by Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland, called for rules like boosting insurance requirements beyond Seattle and introducing a new permitting process, The Seattle Times reported. Habib said that these services shouldn’t be subject to separate permitting processes in every city and called for standard rules statewide. Habib, who thanked Murray for reconciling the industry, said he has met Murray regarding the legislation and would work with his representatives on it.
However, Seattle’s leaders are worried that a state-level law might override local efforts to manage the fast-growing industry. “The TNCs (travel network companies) would like to wipe out Seattle’s right to regulate them,” Mike O’Brien, Seattle city council member, said, according to The Seattle Times, adding: “That issue of state pre-emption of local jurisdictions is something that causes me serious concerns.”
Among other rules, Habib’s regulation would require the service providers to insure all on-the-job drivers, including those who have not been dispatched to customers. Currently, drivers who are not dispatched to customers may not be insured. Once a passenger is in the car, the insurance coverage would increase, according to the new bill. Habib also proposed that drivers will have to pass a background check to get hired.
“We’re following the TNC legislation in Olympia very closely,” Denise Movius of Seattle’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services, said, in a statement, according to The Seattle Times, adding: “Seattle was able to make great strides last year in creating a regulatory framework with support of the TNCs and taxi stakeholders that focuses on public safety, consumer protection, and equity throughout these industries. The city has expressed to the bill’s sponsor that as the process unfolds it will be critical that the protections we have in place are not diminished.”
App-based ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber reportedly consider Seattle as their biggest operations even though they run in smaller cities like Tacoma, Vancouver and Spokane. O’Brien added that Seattle thus, should be the main oversight. The proposal follows Colorado and California, where similar regulations had been passed.
Meanwhile, Uber, which has been riddled with controversies for a long time, released the findings of a report Friday that it had commissioned, the company said on its official blog Friday. The report by global law firm Hogan Lovells examined the company's privacy and data security processes and recommended that Uber could work on providing mandatory, job and specific training to employees, make policies easier for customers to understand and tighten access controls.