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California Public Utilities Commission Authorizes Ride Sharing Networks

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics

The state of California is putting its stamp of approval on high-tech ride sharing networks. The state Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the increasingly popular peer-to-peer networks, but with some very specific requirements. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

More and more people needing rides these days are clicking smart phone apps to arrange them with local networks. John Zimmer, co-founder of San Francisco-based Lyft, says the networks will now have state endorsed vehicles and drivers.

“Now as part of the requirements, that’s something we’ve always done, we have criminal background checks with strict criteria, driving record checks with strict criteria as well as a million dollar liability policy to protect all drivers and passengers on the platform,” says Zimmer.

But Paul Marron with the Taxi and Paratransit Association of California says traditional taxis are at a disadvantage because they’re legally required to provide transportation in underserved communities. Ride share networks aren’t. 

"Taxis are required to provide service in every part of the city, not just the affluent parts. Taxi companies have mandates about the number of disabled taxi vehicles that they must have," says Marron.

The taxi industry will consider its legal options in the coming weeks.