By Emily Alper Reyes and Marc Lifsher, June 10, 2014
As students walk in front of them, dozens of taxi drivers rally Tuesday
on the steps of L.A. City Hall to protest the use of popular
Three members of the Los Angeles City Council called Tuesday for state
lawmakers to back tighter state regulation of ride-sharing companies
such as Lyft and Uber, arguing that existing rules leave passengers
using the firms' smartphone apps vulnerable and put traditional taxicabs
at an unfair disadvantage.
"When it comes to public safety, there
shouldn't be a double standard in Los Angeles," Councilman Paul Koretz
said, calling the ride-sharing firms "well-financed bandit cabs with
Koretz and Councilman Gil Cedillo joined scores of taxi drivers at a
news conference Tuesday to urge the passage of a soon-to-be amended
bill, AB 612 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks). The bill
would require ride-sharing operators to carry the same 24-7 commercial
insurance coverage as regular taxis. An earlier version of the bill ran
into trouble in the lower house of the Legislature.
Koretz, Cedillo and Councilman Paul Krekorian also introduced a
resolution Tuesday calling for passage of AB 612. The full City Council
hasn't taken a position on the legislation. Cedillo argued that the
legislation would hold Uber, Lyft and other such companies to the same
standards as taxicabs.
"We cannot tolerate an industry that's
unregulated, unsafe and unacceptable," Cedillo said, echoing the slogan
printed on the red shirts of taxi drivers standing behind him the steps
of Los Angeles City Hall.
Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said that Uber drivers already have to
pass a "rigorous" background check and have a "best-in-class insurance
policy." She called AB 612 and another bill pending in the state Senate
"thinly veiled attempts to end ride-sharing in the state."
legislation is not about safety or consumers; it’s about protecting
entrenched Sacramento special interests from competition," Behrend said
in a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times.
Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson echoed her comments, saying Lyft has a
$1-million commercial excess liability insurance policy that far
exceeds that required for taxis in Los Angeles. The company also
"screens out applicants for any violent crimes, sexual offenses, theft,
property damage and felonies," Wilson said in an emailed statement.
the battle over the proposed legislation continues in Sacramento,
the California Public Utilities Commission, which has legal jurisdiction
over ride-sharing companies, is in the process of tightening and
clarifying its insurance requirements for the firms.
regulations call for $1 million of coverage that kicks in after a
driver’s personal insurance hits its limit. Regulations also require
criminal background checks and safety inspections of cars, among
The L.A. City Council members' call for tighter
rules comes a week after an Uber driver was accused of abducting a
drunk woman and taking her to a hotel in Van Nuys. Prosecutors did not file charges against the man, saying there was insufficient evidence. Uber disabled the driver's account after learning of his arrest.