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Here Is Where Uber And Lyft Are Facing Regulation Battles In The United States

Uber and Lyft are fighting for the ability to operate in cities across the country. Here are some of the regulatory battles, the resulting citations, and in some cases, law suits the companies are embroiled in.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Cities/States/Counties in question:

  • San Antonio
  • Los Angeles and San Francisco
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania (except for Philadelphia)
  • Philadelphia
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Broward County, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Colorado
  • South Carolina
  • New York City
  • Illinois
  • Fairfield County, Connecticut

Updates

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New York City

The TLC has lifted the suspension on five out of six of Uber's bases after the company finally complied with the Commission's request for electronic trip data, New York Business Journal reported.

In New York City, according to TLC regulations, for-hire drivers must be registered with a TLC-licensed base in order to operate legally. Though Uber has been operating with one driver base since January, the suspension ultimately had little effect on the consumer side because drivers are free to accept rides even if the rides are not dispatched from their affiliated driver base.

Last Friday, after appealing the suspension (which was later rejected), Uber finally complied with the request and submitted the trip logs.

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Fairfield County, Connecticut

Lyft will pause operations in Fairfield County, Connecticut as of February 6 according to an email sent to drivers. In Connecticut, where regulators have yet to decide whether they want to create a new category for transportation network companies, Uber and Lyft are facing a federal lawsuit filed by 15 taxi and livery companies that accuse the companies of racketeering, unfair practices, cutting regulatory corners, and misrepresenting the service, among other charges.

In November, both companies asked a federal judge to dismiss the case. Uber, on the one hand, argued that federal court was not the appropriate arena to decide if and how Uber should operate in the state. Lyft, on the other, argued that taxi companies should not "force-fit inapplicable regulations onto the services of Lyft and Uber and then deputize themselves to enforce those regulations."

According to the email Lyft sent to drivers yesterday, the company is pausing operations "until a clear set of operating rules have been established by the state of Connecticut." Lyft is also offering drivers the opportunity to drive in Northern New Jersey or to get a TLC license and drive in New York City. Drivers must email the company by February 2 if they are interested.

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South Carolina

As reported earlier in the piece, the South Carolina Public Service Commission scheduled a hearing to decide whether to certify Uber as a Class C passenger carrier, thus allowing the company to operate legally in the state, on January 26.

However, as BuzzFeed News reported, last night the PSC unanimously voted to order Uber to cease and desist in the entire state.

According to the directive, members of the Office of the Regulatory Staff (which is an agency under the PSC that has the "sole responsibility for the inspection, auditing, and examination of public utilities") notified the PSC that Uber may still be operating in the state without the necessary Class C certification.

"At this point, it is not necessary to make a finding of fact that the Applicant is or is not operating. It is only necessary that the Applicant be held to the same standard as every other applicant," the directive reads. "To the extent that Rasier or its related companies and affiliates and/or its network partner drivers are currently operating, they must cease and desist operating unless and until the Application is approved and a Certificate is issued."

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New York City

The Taxi and Limousine Tribunal has suspended five out of six Uber bases in New York and charged each with a $200 fine for failing to submit electronic trip data as requested by the TLC, New York Business Journal's Ben Fischer reported. Uber will not be allowed to legally dispatch rides from any of the five bases until the company complies with the TLC request for trip logs — a request that Lyft and other transit companies did not contest during an October TLC hearing. (In New York City, in order to operate as a for hire-vehicle, a driver must be affiliated with a TLC regulated and approved base.)

At a public hearing in October, Uber, represented by its NYC general manager Josh Mohrer, contended that the trip data could rise to the level of trade secrets and handing it over the the TLC could open it up to third parties through FOIA laws. However, hearing officer Ann Macadangdang wrote that Uber failed to provide evidence to support their defense.

"Though Respondents argue that the proprietary nature of this information is grounded in the fact that the Uber trains and selectively retains elite drivers for the Company, this argument is rejected," the decision reads. "The Commission is not seeking every business document from Respondents and certainly nothing related to its training and retention process."

Uber can continue to operate so long as all rides are dispatched from the remaining base, Grun.

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Orlando

The Orlando City Council voted unanimously to approve rules that would allow Lyft, Uber, and other ridesharing companies to operate legally within city limits, The Orlando Political Observer reported. However, the set of rules did not pass as originally proposed.

Under the proposed rules, Uber and Lyft could operate but had to charge 25 percent more than taxis. Though the City Council approved the first read of the rules on December 8, on Monday the council amended the plan to allow taxis and Uber and Lyft to operate at the same rate.

The Council also dropped the permit application fee from $500 to $250.

In a statement, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that though the new ordinances cave to many of the concerns of Uber and Lyft, the city will not budge on the issue of consumer protection. "One area where the City will not compromise is on important safety measures that protect our traveling public—things like providing background checks on drivers, insurance coverage and vehicle inspections. These are things, you as a consumer should expect and these are things you should demand from me as Mayor."

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Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelan told BuzzFeed News that the company welcomes the opportunity to work with regulators, giving California, Colorado, Austin, and Washington, D.C., as examples.

"In working with local regulators to craft updated rules specific to ridesharing, our goal has always been to maintain the highest level of safety while also streamlining processes to allow all drivers - from students to single moms to retirees - who pass our rigorous background and driving record checks to drive with Lyft," Thelan told BuzzFeed News. "As more people are able to give rides on their way to work or running errands, we get that much closer to our goal of filling the empty seats in cars and ultimately reducing the number of cars on the road altogether."

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San Antonio

Despite the newly approved rules, Uber will not be leaving San Antonio immediately. Uber San Antonio general manager told BuzzFeed News that the company hopes to work with the San Antonio city council to determine whether Uber (or any other ride sharing company for that matter) can operate in the city after March.

"The ordinance passed by the San Antonio City Council is highly problematic and full of provisions designed to protect the taxi industry," Leandre Johns said. "While it opens up a regulatory framework for ridesharing, it is significantly more stringent than anything in the country. Several amendments were made to ease the driver barriers, but there is still work to be done in San Antonio."

"More than 10,000 San Antonians and numerous business leaders like Graham Weston told the City Council to protect their access to Uber," Johns continued. "We hope city officials remember how excited their constituents are about ridesharing and will work to transform the ordinance into a bill that truly supports competition on the streets of San Antonio like their innovative neighbor, Austin. If we cannot fix the ordinance before March 1st and conclude that we are unable to operate under these regulations, all Uber partners in San Antonio will be able to drive and earn income in Austin."