Uber and Lyft
The two largest ride-sharing companies in the United States, are once again facing legislation in the Ocean State. Uber and Lyft are both ride-sharing companies controlled through your smartphone. Ride-sharing programs do more things than many lawmakers would like you to know including more than just give people a simple ride to where they are going.
According to Uber, the average driver makes about $90,000 but also spends 60% of that money on maintenance, tolls, gas, etc. That means that not only has Uber and Lyft created hundreds of jobs but also put that money largely back into the local economy through mechanics shops, gas stations, and other local businesses. Uber also generates 2 Billion dollars per year in the United States, money that otherwise would not have impacted small local business owners.
In Rhode Island though there is a wind of change coming and depending which way it blows could be critical to our ride sharing future. Two bills are going to go before the state driven by Representative John G. Edwards, and Senator Maryellen Goodwin. The two legislators were both members of the special committee on Ride-Hailing Apps that was created last year to discuss permitting for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.
Both bills both propose to charge these companies fees for permits as well as increase insurance coverage based on the number of active drivers. Fortunately, Uber and Lyft are already familiar with this type of legislation and are prepared for it.
Similar bills were presented last year, but neither made it through the house and senate.
The second issue, of course, is that cab drivers and cab companies do not seem to see eye to eye with these ride-hailing companies. Many of the taxi companies in Providence feel that Uber and Lyft do not follow the rules set for cabs and car services. In fact, Orange Cab of Newport and Airport Taxi of Warwick have filed suit against the state and Uber over these issues. Fortunately or unfortunately they have chosen to table their suits until this year’s General Assembly session when these bills will be brought before the house and senate.
Only time will tell what the future of Uber and Lyft will be in Rhode Island and whatever we hope that the people benefit. In the meantime, we hope that everyone continues to be safe and chooses Uber and Lyft rather than Drinking and Driving.