State reaches agreement with ride-sharing companies Lyft, Uber

Lyft
Lyft

VIRGINIA (WAVY) – Governor Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring announced Wednesday that Virginia reached an agreement with Uber and Lyft to operate in the state under a temporary agreement.

The agreement comes after the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles ordered the two ride-sharing services to stop operating on June 5, because they did not have the proper licenses.

Uber and Lyft launched in the Hampton Roads area in May. Uber calls itself ride sharing, while Lyft refers to its peer-to-peer business model. With both companies, a passenger connects with and pays for rides through the companies’ smartphone apps.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, the agreement will help ensure the safety of passengers and bring the companies into compliance with the state’s laws.

“In order for Virginia to remain economically competitive, it is important that we welcome innovative companies like Uber and Lyft and provide them with the resources they need to safely and effectively operate in the Commonwealth,” Governor McAuliffe said in a statement. “Technology – specifically related to smart phones – continues to advance at a rapid pace, and I am pleased that we were able to work together to find a swift solution that will provide Virginia’s workers, students, and families with more transportation options.”

The DMV has informed the two companies their applications for transportation broker’s licenses and temporary operating authority were granted, and they can begin operating immediately. Uber and Lyft must comply with an extensive set of conditions, which include (list provided by the governor’s office):

  • Extensive background checks of drivers, with immediate disqualifiers including convictions for any felony, fraud, sexual offenses, or violent crimes, or registration as a sex offender.
  • A review of driving history, with disqualification for drivers convicted of three or more moving violations in the last three years, DUI, underage drinking, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, hit and run, or eluding law-enforcement, or a revocation of a driver’s license.
  • Zero tolerance for the use of drugs or alcohol by any drivers, and a suspension pending investigation of any driver accused of violating the zero tolerance policy.
  • Only employing drivers who are properly licensed and over 21, and vehicles that carry a maximum of seven passengers and are properly registered and inspected for safety and emissions, where applicable.
  • Rigorous insurance requirements, including requiring drivers to maintain automobile liability insurance, maintaining on behalf of all drivers an additional $1,000,000 of coverage from the moment a driver accepts a trip request until the passenger leaves the vehicle, and liability insurance for drivers who are logged onto the companies’ software but not providing services.
  • Maintaining documentation for each driver of his or her background check, sex offender registry check, driving record, proof of insurance, valid driver’s license, Social Security number, vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle safety inspection. Documentation must be available to DMV on demand to investigate any complaints, and must be available for periodic audits to ensure compliance.
  • Paying any previously assessed civil penalties for non-compliance and dropping any appeals, which both companies have already done.
  • Features to help customers identify their driver and vehicle, including from the outside of the vehicle.
  • Drivers notifying the companies of any change in their license status, vehicle registration, insurance, or any arrest for a crime that would disqualify them from being a driver.
  • Rate transparency and documentation.
  • Companies advising drivers of their need to comply with applicable tax laws.
  • Only accepting rides booked through the companies’ mobile device apps, not street hails.
  • Companies maintaining a Virginia transportation broker’s license.

According to McAuliffe’s office, the DMV is now leading a study to develop a long-term legislative solution that addresses these types of services. The study is scheduled to be complete in time for the 2015 legislative session.

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