It’s been a busy week and a half on the ridesharing front, as legislation setting out statewide rules for transportation network companies moved forward in Iowa and Alabama, while Pennsylvania’s version of legislation is now on the final leg of its trip through the Legislature.
Earlier this week, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed H.F. 2414 into law (the measure goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017). The bill standardizes the definition of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft and requires such firms to perform background checks on potential drivers. It also proscribes localities from imposing more restrictive terms on driver licensing.
The measure sets out minimum insurance requirements that include liability coverage of at least $1 million for the period from when a driver and potential passenger are matched until he or she is dropped off. During periods when a driver is logged in to the ridesharing app, but not matched with a rider, the law sets minimum coverage requirements of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for death or bodily injury and $25,000 for physical damage. Coverage may be maintained either by the TNC, the driver or a combination thereof.
The final bill did not include a provision sought by lenders, and mulled in some earlier versions of the legislation, which would have required TNCs to ensure drivers with liens on their vehicles also maintain comprehensive and collision coverage.
Although not yet signed by Gov. Robert Bentley (who is perhaps facing bigger issues of his own these days), ridesharing legislation also cleared both chambers of the Alabama Legislature May 4. The bill, S.B. 262, focuses solely on insurance coverage matters. It doesn’t establish a statewide regulator, impose regulatory fees or include any language requiring background checks.
The bill does require TNCs or their drivers to maintain $1 million of liability coverage while engaged in a ride and, like the Iowa bill, requires that drivers must have coverage of $50,000 per-person, $100,000 per-accident and $25,000 for physical damage during any period when they are logged in to the ridesharing app, but not yet matched with a rider. The law will go into effect three months after Bentley signs it, presuming that he does.
Finally, there was a bit of movement in the long-stalled effort to pass statewide ridesharing legislation in Pennsylvania, a topic we’ve covered in this space before. The Commonwealth Senate passed a bill last November, but it has remained hung up in the House, largely over the question of whether and the extent to which state authorities will be permitted to pre-empt regulation by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which has effectively banned ridesharing.
However, a compromise version of S.B. 984 passed the House Consumer Affairs Committee May 4 in a 23 to 2 vote. The final bill sets standards for ridesharing in most of the state under the regulatory authority of the Public Utility Commission, whose existing agreements with Uber and Lyft were validated late last month in a Commonwealth Court decision that struck down a legal challenge from taxi companies. The measure sets the usual background check and insurance requirements, as well as rules about the age of vehicles, a minimum age for drivers (21) and requirements to accommodate drivers with disabilities.
It also explicitly legalizes ridesharing in Philadelphia. However, the Parking Authority would retain its regulatory authority and the services would be banned from picking up and dropping off at locations with established cabstands, such as Philadelphia International Airport and 30th Street Station.
All in all, not an ideal piece of legislation, but still a major step forward for the City of Brotherly Love, which received the lowest overall score in R Street’s 2015 Ridescore report card.
Also, be sure to check out our map of state-by-state ridesharing legislation here.