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Ride-Sharing Companies, Taxi Industry Battle In California

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A taxi driver protests ride-sharing companies in this 2014 photo in front of the state Capitol.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s been a bumpy road for ride-sharing companies this year.

In January, the DMV said it would require Lyft and Uber drivers to obtain commercial vehicle licenses -- then rescinded that regulation after a backlash.

Last week, the Public Utilities Commission fined an Uber subsidiary more than $7 million for not complying with passenger reporting requirements.

And Democratic Senator Ben Hueso, whose family is in the taxi business, is putting the brakes on several bills backed by the ride-sharing companies. He plans to hold an informational hearing this fall.

"It’s taken decades to really come up with a regulatory framework for transportation in local communities -- decades," Hueso told Capital Public Radio last week. "And overnight, these companies have penetrated the market in a way that has bypassed the ability to conform to all those rules and laws."

Hueso says it’s not fair that taxis are regulated locally, but ride-sharing companies face a single set of statewide regulations. The taxi industry wants a more level playing field.

But John Doherty with the trade organization TechNet says statewide ride-sharing regulations make more sense.

"We’re not anti-reasonable oversight and regulation," Doherty says. "What we are anti is just trying to take an old system that doesn’t make sense anymore and just overlay it on top of the new services."

Doherty says despite this year’s setbacks, ride-sharing companies are making progress on other fronts -- especially in gaining access to airports.

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