California ride sharing legal

September 24, 2014

The taxi revolution is at hand. Smartphone applications such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which have been under fire from traditional taxi industries around the globe, are now feeling the heat here in California as well.

Earlier this month the California Public Utilities Commission contacted the three companies letting them know that some of their services are in violation of state law.

What’s the charge? The core services are not being targeted. Instead, it’s a new offering which pairs riders going in the same direction together, splitting the fare and charging them both separately.

So what’s the big deal? Well, the law states it isn’t legal to charge riders individually for the same fare, the only exception being for school buses.

Why does the CPUC believe this to be a problem? I don’t know. But there is a group that would definitely find it to be a problem (and just might be leveraging their lobbying groups to push for a crackdown). That group is the taxi services which have enjoyed a monopoly on the industry until these meddling techies got involved.

According to research by MIT, et al., ride sharing could reduce overall travel time by around 40 percent. Yikes!

These smartphone GPS services have been causing huge issues around the globe. Germany briefly banned the service nationwide until a more forward-thinking judge reinstated it. Last year, EU-wide protests by the taxi industry disrupted transportation systems in major cities such as London, Madrid and Milan.

So what’s a taxi driver to do? As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Some converts claim to be making much more money as drivers for the new services after leaving behind their traditional cab jobs. But many are upset after having spent months and years to be certified as cab drivers, only to have the rug pulled up beneath the industry.

One such group would be London’s Black Cab services, which require passing an exam known as The Knowledge, which takes a claimed average of 34 months to prepare for and pass.

It would seem that love them or hate them, these services are here to stay. Those who embrace the new order will have a much easier time acclimating than those who fight it, similar to the plethora of companies who shut their doors due to inability to adjust to e-commerce, movie streaming, etc.

John Rosenbaum is a veteran attorney with over 35 years of experience. His 99.8% success rate has earned him regards as one of the top attorneys in Orange County, California.

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