California Ridesharing Bill is Anti-Competitive, Anti-Consumer, and Anti-Innovation
by Mike Montgomery
Technology has made transportation more accessible across the country and has enabled individuals to expand their economic opportunities by utilizing their own vehicles to provide rides to consumers. In fact, there are 20,000 drivers in the Bay Area taking advantage of this new form of personal enterprise through Uber alone. Some interests, however, wish to create redundant regulations in order to slow down this virtuous cycle, and in doing so bog down legislative bodies.
Right now, a bill that so obviously favors a legacy industry while simultaneously piling on bureaucratic redundancy and red tape with no actual benefit to public safety will be debated in the California State Assembly, and we are dismayed that additional legislative energy — and taxpayer dollars — will be spent rehashing a similar bill that couldn’t even make it out of committee last year.
Assembly Bill 24 , as submitted by State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, is an anti-competitive bill that enshrines bad habits and practices in an effort to stymie innovation. AB 24 will hamper the ability of modern improve technology companies to improve the transportation experience and enhance the safety of the transportation industry for all Californians.
We ask that the legislature to spend no further time on this “new” bill, a practical carbon copy of last year’s Assembly Bill 612, the Assembly’s initial — and failed — attempt to impede progress. Despite erroneous public statements to the contrary, the passage of AB 24 would not “ramp up” safety requirements for ridesharing. The disingenuous safety solutions proposed in the bill fall far short of the already-stringent background check policies of ridesharing companies. These companies facilitate a far more vetted ride when compared to legacy options.
We agree that every ride should be a safe ride, and ridesharing companies have enshrined that value in 24-hour-a-day customer service and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies. Additionally, with riders’ safety top of mind, ridesharing companies allow for real-time feedback and ride tracking, two features noticeably absent in today’s livery.
In contrast, ridesharing companies engage in multi-layered, professionally administered background checks that extend beyond the county and state of the potential driver. Administered checks include residence verification, social security screening and examination of pending legal charges, all of which are absent from Nazarian’s bill.
AB 24 is a blatantly anti-competitive example of regulatory capture at its very worst that will only serve to choke innovation.
Californians are increasingly entrusting ridesharing companies to provide safe and reliable transport. Instead of hampering those businesses that are improving the industry, perhaps the California State Assembly should explore how legacy industries can learn from the cutting-edge practices of the ridesharing community and adopt its far more robust practices instead.
Disclosure: The author is executive director of CALinnovates, a technology advocacy coalition whose members include sharing economy companies.