Attack on Uber Via California Regulator

     
     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Flywheel Taxi filed a federal suit claiming the California Public Utilities Commission’s improper interference with ride-hailing upstarts like Uber and Lyft keeps cities and counties from properly regulating the traditional taxi industry.
     Desoto Cab Co. dba Flywheel Taxi on Wednesday accused the commission of violating guarantees of equal protection and due process. It claims the commission does not even have jurisdiction over on-demand transportation services, so it cannot regulate them.
     City and county governments have exclusive jurisdiction over taxi services in California, but the commission issues regulatory requirements for taxi companies in San Francisco that are not fair, Flywheel says.
     The commission requires traditional taxi companies to carry $1 million in liability insurance, provide ADA-accessible vehicles, provide workers’ compensation coverage for drivers and limit the number of vehicles on the street, among other things.
     But the commission does not require this of “de facto” taxicab companies like Uber and Lyft, which perform ineffective background checks on their drivers, and the commission leaves driver training programs entirely to the companies, Flywheel says.
     Regulatory burdens on traditional taxi companies are “far more stringent and protective of the public” and “far more costly to provide and maintain” than those placed upon de facto taxi companies, according to the complaint.
     The lawsuit comes on the heels of numerous similar complaints across the country against Uber, municipalities and government agencies.
     Flywheel seeks declaratory judgment and vacation of the commission’s 2013 decision creating a category of “Transportation Network Carriers,” and claiming jurisdiction over all “de facto” taxi companies in the state.
     Neither Flywheel nor the Commission could be reached for comment Thursday evening.
     Flywheel is represented by Shannon Seibert, with Seibert & Bautista in San Francisco.

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