Ride-sharing companies Lyft, SideCar and Uber have pioneered a new way to get around around the city, but also created controversy about the legality and safety of their activities.
In November, the California Public Utilities Commission fined the companies $20,000 each for public safety violations.
The new ridesharing services allow people who need a ride to use a smartphone app to request one from drivers, ordinary car-owning residents who have been prescreened by the company. Payment for rides is voluntary and suggested fees are based on what other riders have paid for similar trips.
Now the commissioners have begun an evaluation of the public safety of these services. The CPUC announced on Dec. 20 that it’s accepting public comment regarding such issues as the consumer protection and safety implications of the services, how these new business models differ from long-standing forms of ridesharing, and their potential impact on insurance and transportation access.
“Our evaluation is not intended to stifle innovation and new services for consumers, but rather to assess public safety risks, and to ensure that the safety of the public is not compromised by the operation of these new transportation business models,” CPUC President Michael Peevey said in a press release.
In the meantime, ride-seeking passengers continue to book rides on their smart phones.