[nfbmi-talk] more on ride sharing ada berkely
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City Council may place stricter regulations on ride-sharing companies | The Daily Californian
Sunday, September 14, 2014
City Council may place stricter regulations on ride-sharing companies
Melissa Wen |
Last Updated 19 hours Ago
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This month, Berkeley City Council may consider placing stricter regulations on ride-sharing companies such as Uber in light of concerns about customer safety
and disability rights.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington proposed the regulations, initially deciding to do so because he worried that people with disabilities were experiencing
particular difficulty in accessing ride-sharing services. Worthington said he also wants to generally ensure the safety of customers and drivers.
“Some companies seem to be trying to evade being socially responsible,” Worthington said. “I just have a feeling that we need to take away the confusion
and have some clear policy.”
Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft use phone applications to connect people to drivers who take customers in their own cars and have been popular
for convenience and prices. Although these services function similarly to traditional taxis, they do not necessarily face the same set of rules.
“(Drivers for ride-sharing companies) don’t have commercial insurance. They don’t go for safety inspection,” said Ali Said, a representative of the Berkeley
Taxi Cab Association who spoke at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “We pay everything … they take our business.”
Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, is especially concerned about making sure that ride-sharing
companies comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. She noted that the popularity of these new transportation services has decreased the availability
of employees to drive wheelchair-accessible taxis in San Francisco.
Goldman also expressed concern that ride-sharing companies do not take enough responsibility for drivers who do not accommodate customers with service dogs.
Last week, the National Federation of the Blind’s California chapter sued Uber for allegedly discriminating against passengers with service dogs.
“The same kind of problems are coming up with these companies in city after city,” Golden said. “Disability advocates of various cities are trying to obtain
an even higher level of regulation and protection for people with disabilities.”
Ride-sharing companies have submitted plans, though, on how to make their services more wheelchair accessible, as per the requirements of the California
Public Utilities Commission. Uber and Lyft could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
Worthington’s proposal is in its preliminary stages and does not yet suggest any specific rules. It draws inspiration from other cities trying to steer
ride-sharing companies toward stricter standards.
Chicago has passed an ordinance that requires some drivers for ride-sharing companies to pay for insurance and for chauffeur licenses. Last year, the California
Public Utilities Commission required drivers to undergo criminal background checks, among other new regulations.
Alexander Salazar, external vice president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said he agrees that ride-sharing services ought to be subject to insurance
and background check requirements. But Salazar called the practice of putting license fees on drivers unnecessarily “onerous.”
“That’s just another way for the city to just try to extract revenue,” Salazar said. “One of the advantages of ride-sharing companies is the low startup
Worthington’s proposal is set to return to City Council for further consideration Sept. 30. The council decided to delay voting on the regulations until
knowing the outcome of proposed state legislation that would increase the insurance requirements for ride-sharing companies.
Uber and Lyft originally opposed the legislation, but after negotiations that resulted in a lower insurance minimum, they withdrew their opposition.
Melissa Wen is the lead city news reporter. Contact her at
mwen at dailycal.org
and follow her on Twitter
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