Senator Hueso Introduces Legislation to Enhance Consumer Protections and Safety of Ride-Hailing Services


ben hueso

SAN DIEGO - State Senator Ben Hueso, Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, introduced a measure that will strengthen regulatory oversight of ride-hailing services, which are technology enabled transportation services, while supporting their continued growth.  Senate Bill 1035 addresses some of the existing shortcomings of the regulatory oversight of these services. The bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to assess and determine public safety, consumer protections and enforcement.

“As Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, it is my duty to protect the consumer and ensure that public safety is maintained,” stated Senator Hueso.  “It is my goal to create rules and regulations that are fair and balanced, while ensuring safe transportation choices for consumers.  I strongly believe Senate bill 1035 addresses the need for more information regarding appropriate criminal background checks, adequate insurance, data access to support local transportation planning, and accessibility for the disabled population.  In addition to strengthening the regulatory oversight, the bill addresses a major gap in the in the current regulatory scheme which is the need for enforcement.”

The recent growth and popularity of technology-enabled transportation ride-hailing services have disrupted the existing transportation-for-hire market and raised questions regarding whether these services are adequately regulated. While the growth of these new technology-enabled services, estimated at over 100,000 in California, is proving popular among consumers, there are a number of areas that need further regulatory review to ensure adequate safety and consumer protections.

These include ensuring insurance coverage is providing the necessary protection for drivers, passengers and the public.  In addition, the bill ensures that those who manage traffic on our streets have access to the necessary data about these services to allow them to plan appropriately.

Unfortunately, the agency tasked with licensing these services, the CPUC, lacks the adequate enforcement capacity and is unlikely to gain it anytime soon. The CPUC has 22 staff inspectors for all the transportation-for-hire services they license, including limos, tour buses, household good movers and ride-hailing services. Last year, they had a total of 12 stings on California roads for the over 11,000 permitted carriers and 100,000 plus ride-hailing services. Considering that most of the ride-hailing activities are occurring on local streets, SB 1035 provides local law enforcement some of the tools it needs to properly enforce the CPUC regulations and rules.

Senate Bill 1035 will be heard on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee located in Room 3191 in Sacramento.