Massachusetts Could Soon Oversee Local Ride-Hailing Services
April 28, 2015
Governor Charlie Baker on Friday introduced legislation that would allow Uber, Lyft and other companies to operate under a new category under state supervision.
The proposed law would require the services to obtain a license from the state and subject their drivers to two criminal background checks, one by company and another by Massachusetts regulators. It would allow the state to ban drivers with criminal records.
The companies would pay an annual tax to offset the cost of their oversight, maintain existing insurance coverage for their drivers and have their cars pass an annual inspection. If adopted, one visible difference for consumers could be signs identifying the ride-hailing companies' cars.
Baker touted the safety benefits of the proposed state background checks, though he acknowledged they might not turn up crimes committed in other states. Ride-hailing companies said they already conduct such checks themselves, but agreed to the additional scrutiny.
Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc., the two most prominent ride-hailing companies, released statements in support of the Baker bill.
The legislation would create a new regulatory category for ride-hailing companies, called "transportation network companies." Such companies would be overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, which already regulates buses, trucks and other modes of transportation.
The bill would also establish a five-member oversight advisory committee appointed by the governor that would include representatives from Boston, Somerville and Cambridge, where the services are most popular.
Source: Dan Adams, "New rules proposed for ride services like Uber, Lyft," The Boston Globe, April 24, 2015.
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