- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A new state report said ride services haven’t hurt taxi businesses across Nebraska.

An estimated 500 people drove for either Uber or Lyft - the only two carriers authorized in the state - last year, with most in Omaha or Lincoln, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2hXrtnL ) reported.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission issued the report as part of its regulation of ride-hailing and cab companies. The state passed a bill in 2015 legalizing ride services, and gave the commission authority to license and regulate them.

“Statewide data gathered from cab companies shows the total number of rides given has generally been on an upward trend over the past five years,” Commission Executive Director Jeff Pursley said.

But the report also noted that Lincoln has seen a decline in the number of cabs and cab drivers employed. Pursley said it’s not clear what’s causing the decline but also said the reduction in numbers occurred before the ride services began operating.

Both the heads of Omaha-based City Taxi Inc. and Happy Cab, headquartered in Omaha and Lincoln, said they had not yet seen the report and declined to comment.

Ride service companies are required to carry insurance, conduct criminal background checks on drivers and inspect vehicles. As of 2017, the companies must also pay the commission an $80 fee for every personal vehicle operated by a driver. The commission then uses that money to monitor, audit and regulate the companies.

The report said that state law does not currently require vehicles used for ride services to display identification to show it is operating legally.

The commission is suggesting for the upcoming session a new requirement for drivers to display a “sign or placard located in the lower passenger side of the vehicle’s dashboard” so passengers can safely and easily identify vehicles.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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