February 4, 2016

Uber bill rides to House floor

Uber app, Albuquerque

A bill adding regulations to rideshare companies passed its second House committee unanimously, with uproar coming only from taxi cab lobbyists.

Uber app, Albuquerque

Uber app, Albuquerque

The measure would put companies like Uber and Lyft under authority of the state Public Regulation Commission. However, local taxi companies strongly oppose the idea because it wouldn’t subject the rideshare to the same regulations.

Specifically, lobbyists for Capital City Cab in Santa Fe and Yellow Cab in Albuquerque lamented how the bill doesn’t subject rideshare services to the state Motor Carriers Act.

“They claim they are not subject because they use an app,” Raymond Sanchez, lobbyist for Yellow Cab, told the House Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon. “Why are we treating Uber differently because they have and we have a [phone] number?”

Joe Earnest, a lobbyist for Santa Fe’s only cab company, noted that Capital City Cab is a full service carrier. This means the company has special vans to carry the handicapped and offer emergency rides during the middle of the night and on the south side of Santa Fe. Further competition with rideshare companies will mean that his company will have to drop these services.

“All those are very unprofitable,” Earnest said. “Because they’re going outside the Motor Carriers Act and this competition can’t be balanced inside the Motor Carriers Act.”

Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque and sponsor of the bill, argued that many parts of the Motor Carriers Act are “onerous.”

“A number of things are so antiquated that we decided this was the way to go,” she said.

This is the second year Youngblood has carried the legislation. Last year it passed the House but failed to pass the Senate.

Her bill requires rideshare companies to post fees online, require insurance of up to $1 million for drivers and require background checks on drivers, among others.

Though all lawmakers on the committee voted to advance Youngblood’s bill, not all had the greatest things to say about their experiences with Uber.

Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan, spoke of how his ride on Uber from a hotel room to an airport cost him $38, while his first ride in from the airport to the hotel cost $22.

“Here was the worst part—I still gave the guy a $5 tip,” Alcon said. “When I got home he had taken $12 [for the tip].”

The bill moves next to the House floor.