Updated: California, D.C. Regulators to Take Another Look at Car Service Apps

By Cameron Scott 

uber, mobile apps, social appsThe California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates car services and ridesharing services, will vote on December 20 on a proposal to initiate a proceeding seeking to address its public safety concerns without stymieing the innovations offered by apps such as Uber, SideCar and Lyft.

Last month, the CPUC fined the companies for failing to adhere to regulations governing car services, but some of the rules don’t apply to the new approaches to connecting passengers with drivers. For instance, car services are required to maintain a written — on paper — manifest of their pick-ups and drop-offs.

“The proposal issued is not to stifle innovation and the provision of new services that consumers want, but rather to assess public safety risks, and to ensure that the safety of the public is not compromised in the operation of these new business models. New technology and innovation requires that the¬†CPUC continually review its regulations and policies,” the CPUC said in a statement.

If the commission votes to begin the process later this month, it will invite stakeholders into a conversation about how to support innovation without compromising public safety, which requires drivers and cars to be held to strict standards. It would then offer a decision within six months, according to the statement.

The CPUC does not regulate taxi services, which Uber also provides.

Update: A similar re-evaluation of the applicability of existing car-service regulations in Washington, D.C., led today to a new law that establishes a class of digitally dispatched car services, allowing Uber to continue to operate there.