- Associated Press - Saturday, May 3, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber aren’t letting vetoed legislation that would have allowed them to operate legally keep them from expanding in Arizona, the Arizona Capitol Times reported (http://bit.ly/1jqL3RL ) Saturday.

“We will continue to stand strong as a community and do everything possible to ensure that we will have a path worked out to allow ridesharing to thrive in Arizona,” Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelen said. “We’re still evaluating the next step now, but we’re continuing to operate.”

Gov. Jan Brewer put the brakes last week on legislation that would have exempted rideshare businesses from insurance regulations imposed on traditional taxi and livery companies. The governor in her veto letter said House Bill 2262 did not offer fundamental safeguards that protect passengers.

“Consumer safety must not be sacrificed for the sake of innovation,” Brewer wrote in her veto letter.

Brewer took issue with several provisions of the bill, including the part that exempts ride-share companies from the commercial insurance requirements that require traditional taxi and livery companies to insure drivers at all times on the job.

“In the larger context, this uncovered exposure likely would have led to significant increases in insurance rates for all Arizona consumers and unnecessary litigation,” she wrote.

The Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, which regulates taxi companies in the state, said rideshare companies are providing services illegally. Shawn Marquez, the department’s director of compliance programs, said civil penalties for offering the service without mandatory insurance or drivers with commercial licenses can be between $200 and $500 per violation.

“They’re transporting people, (but) they don’t have commercial insurance, they don’t have commercial plates. At this point, they’re not legal. They are considered right now just pirate (taxis),” Marquez said.

As a result, state officials out inspecting taxis and limousines at big events will cite any rideshare drivers, Marquez said. Local police can also ticket them, he added.

Ridesharing companies have argued that they are more like technology businesses because of the use of a smartphone application to bring passengers and drivers into contact for a fee. A price of a ride is based on the time and distance traveled and a supply and demand rubric that charges more during high-traffic periods. The companies get a percentage of the payment, and the rest goes to the driver.

During the legislative session, supporters of rideshare companies had argued that a veto would result in a loss of jobs. The companies after the vote said in a statement that “ridesharing as we know it is dead in Arizona.” However, a spokeswoman for Uber said the company is still evaluating options in Arizona. The company continues to operate in the state.

The companies have faced shut-down attempts in other cities for not getting approval by transportation regulators. But Lyft spokeswoman Thelen said the company was able to negotiate with local regulators in California and can now be legally licensed there. Lyft hopes to reach a compromise with the Department of Weights and Measures in Arizona, she said.

Meanwhile, Lyft’s drivers are aware they could be ticketed, Thelen said.


Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com



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