Two bills are currently before the state legislature, bills being promoted by Uber and Lyft, companies founded by breaking the law (and they continue to do so). Yet unlike the taxi or limousine industry, they have been rewarded by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and state legislators with special privileges and laws tailor-made for their illicit commercial enterprises.
We'd like to thank all those who made it to our rally in Sacramento July 7, it was a HUGE success! Somewhere beween 50 and 100 cabs showed up to circle the Capital. Then an impressive number of cabdrivers (around 50) sat through 2 hours of the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee Hearings while they discussed other bills, before finally getting to AB 828. We dwarfed the number of Lyft drivers (in their pink t-shirts), particularly those who stuck around, and their arguments sounded pretty shallow after hearing from the cabdrivers.
The hearing can be viewed at http://senate.ca.gov/media-archive# . Go to the 7/7/15 Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and click "Watch". The hearing for AB 828 begins at 1:55:45 and ends at about 3:15:00.
To put this in context, AB 828 flew through the Assembly with almost no opposition. It passed through the Assembly Transportation Committee 14-0 and only had one no vote on the Assembly Floor (71-1) It was expected to pass through this committee 11-0 just days ago, but because of our lobbying efforts and the presence of everyone who showed up yesterday to the hearing, they could not deny that TNCs are operating commercially!
So the bill did not pass as introduced, and barely squeaked out of this senate committee (6-5) after being amended to send it to the CPUC to studied, with a 2 year "sunset", meaning it dies if not passed by then. There are still a few more legislative hurtles however, such as what this will cost the state, so it may not even make it to the full Senate Floor.
The legislators go on break for a month after next week, but we may need to put the pressure on again toward the end of August, if this bill does make it to "Floor".
AB 1360, which would allow TNCs to pick up multiple passengers going to different locations and charge them individually, will be heard before the Energy, Utilities and Commerce Committee next Monday the 13th at 1:30pm in Room 112. We don't expect to stop this bill, as it's passed every committee almost unanimously, but we will be there testifying against it nevertheless. We feel it's important to oppose this bill anyhow, and to dispel the common assumption that TNCs are good for the environment.
We will keep you posted.
AB 828 would exempt drivers for so called “Transportation Network Companies” or “TNCs”, such as Uber and Lyft, from the requirement of registering their vehicles commercially with the DMV. This, despite the fact they are clearly using their vehicles for commercial purposes, and all other vehicles used commercially must do so to help pay for their extra use of the roads and the added congestion and pollution they cause. See our letter in opposition to this bill here: NO on AB 828
AB 1360 on its surface seems innocent enough, as it would allow TNC vehicles to “pool” their passengers and charge them individually, as long as each fare amount to less than it would if there were only one passenger. However, there is no limit to what one passenger might pay. For instance: Uber and Lyft regularly employ the practice of “surge pricing”, or as Lyft prefers to call it “Prime Time Tipping”, where passengers have been charged as much as eight times the normal rate during busy times. Uber has reportedly experimented with as much as 50x in Stockholm.
AB 1360 is predicated on the notion that these services are better for the environment because they take vehicles off the road. The fact of the matter is that by their own admission, Uber is adding hundreds of thousands of vehicles to the road every month and 22,000 to the streets of San Francisco alone!
Vehicles that would otherwise be parked are now cruising the streets looking for fares and GM and Toyota are offering special cut rate loans to Uber drivers, adding new vehicles to the roads. According to GPS developer Tom Tom, just over the last two years (since TNCs were officially allowed by the CPUC) San Francisco has become the 2nd most congested city in the nation.
The American Lung Association’s annual list of polluted cities lists San Francisco as the seventh most polluted city for year round particle pollution in 2015, when only two years earlier, in 2013 it was not even listed in the top 25.
TNC drivers are not yet required to pass fingerprint based Department of Justice background checks, as are taxi and public bus drivers. Furthermore, their vehicles are self inspected, rather than by a government entity as are taxis and municipal transit vehicles. Does it make sense to allow public conveying services to be self regulated, when history continues to support the proven fact that this is a very bad idea?
Privileges for these questionable services should not be expanded, as many known gaps in insurance, public safety and consumer protection still exist.