| SAN FRANCISCO, June 25
SAN FRANCISCO, June 25 A bill that would impose
insurance requirements on ridesharing companies in California
passed a state Senate committee 9-1 on Wednesday, although with
somewhat lower costs to the industry than previously written
into the bill.
Companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and UberX, which is a part
of black-car service Uber, allow passengers to summon paid rides
using apps on their smartphones and have gained in popularity in
dozens of U.S. cities over the past few years.
But they face opposition from taxi companies which argue the
upstarts do not face the stringent regulation they do, and
insurance companies want ridesharing drivers to carry more
expensive insurance policies.
The bill, AB 2239, would require ridesharing companies'
insurance to cover drivers from the moment they turn on their
app, not just from when they accept a ride on their app. The
version the insurance committee approved on Wednesday requires
$750,000 worth of insurance coverage in such cases, down from $1
million in the previous draft.
The bill, which has already been approved by the State
Assembly, must still get through the appropriations committee
and then the full Senate before becoming law. The same fate
awaits a related bill that would require drug and alcohol tests
for ridesharing drivers.
The move to dictate more extensive coverage stems from a New
Year's Eve incident in San Francisco when an UberX driver killed
a child while his app was on, but before he had accepted a ride.
Ridesharing companies say the stepped-up insurance
requirements are not fair because they could potentially leave
them liable for hours of driving time when a driver has an app
turned on but does not accept rides.
Separately, the California Public Utilities Commission,
which is seeking to regulate ridesharing in the state, has
scheduled a July 10 hearing for its own proposed rules.
Those rules would also require the ridesharing companies'
insurance kick in from the time drivers turn on their apps.
In New Mexico, the state Public Regulations Commission voted
3-2 on Wednesday to deny Uber's application for a temporary
operating permit, Arthur Bishop, a spokesman for the commission,
said in an email. The commission also voted unanimously to
consider amending its rules to include provisions for
ridesharing services, he said.
(Reporting by Sarah McBride; Additional reporting by Alex
Dobuzinskis; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)