Final “Uber” Bill

Late Sunday night, the legislature passed a compromise bill to regulate Transportation Networking Companies like Uber and Lyft.  Here are some of the major components of the H.4570:

  • An oversight department within the Department of Public Utilities is created, funded by a surcharge on the companies.
  • TNC vehicles are subject to annual inspection, which can occur at the same time as a regular vehicle inspection.  Vehicles must have an external decal to identify the vehicle while it is engaging in ride sharing.
  • TNC vehicles will receive a special toll transponder and pay commercial tolls.
  • Any type of ride other than a “prearranged ride” is prohibited.
  • TNC companies must verify the completion of a driver background checks, have transparent pricing, accommodate persons with disabilities, maintain a driver roster, be subject to audit by the DPU and provide a toll free customer service hotline.
  • Drivers must be at least 21 years old, notify their insurance company that they will be using their vehicle for TNC services, be subject to a background checks.  Drivers are further subject to twice annual background checks while they are driving.  Drivers are immediately suspended upon any violation discovered by a background check.  A criminal penalty is established for impersonating a driver or driving under someone else’s certificate.
  • TNC must carry adequate insurance; TNC driver must carry proper insurance & disclose in the event of an accident; car insurance providers offering TNC coverage shall recognize that it only applies while the driver is logged in or conducting a pre-arranged ride; TNC shall disclose the insurance coverage and limits while they are using the service and notice that a personal policy may not provide coverage while the driver is on app.  The TNC must comply with any claims investigation.
  • Local regulation is explicitly preempted.  MassPort and the MCCA can regulate TNC access to its respective property.
  • The insurance requirements for TNCs are: When the driver is logged on but not engaged in a ride they must have  $50,000 per person, $100,000 per event personal injury coverage and $30,000 in property damage coverage.  When the driver is engaged in a ride, they must have $1,000,000 coverage.  If the driver’s insurance has  lapsed, the TNC has to cover everything.
  • A ride for hire task force is established to examine the current laws, regulations and ordinances governing hackneys, taxis, livery and TNCs and will make recommendations concerning public safety and the regulator structure of the ride for hire industry.
  • The bill creates a transportation infrastructure charge of $.20 per ride.  For the first 5 years, the funds are distributed with ½ of the money going to cities or towns of origin, ¼ of the money to Mass Development Finance Agency to provide financial assistance to the small businesses operating in the taxi, livery or hackney industries and ¼ to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund.  After 2022 ½ will go to the cities and towns and ½ will go to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund.

The house bill originally included a ban on access to Logan Airport and the BCEC but that was left out of the final version of the bill.  The Boston Police Commissioner had pushed for fingerprint background checks but these were left out of the final version of the bill: Boston is the only jurisdiction in the state that fingerprints its taxi drivers, and this policy was only recently implemented.

Andrew Bettinelli
Legislative Aide
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger






8 replies on “Final “Uber” Bill”

  1. Great work, and my appreciation. I liked the original House version better than the reconciled bill, but the House did a great job making sure the final legislation was in riders’ best interests. That must have taken some political courage.

    The one thing that still seems uncertain is Logan Airport. At present they have a very restrictive policy (requiring livery plates) that severely limits the availability of regular Uber rides there. It doesn’t look like anything in the new legislation will prevent Massport from continuing this policy. However, I get a sense that the General Court hopes or expects Massport to change their policy to simply require a permit, presumably with reasonable requirements and fees, so that regular Uber and Lyft drivers can pick up at Logan. Is this correct?

    What is the best way for citizens to contact Massport to encourage them in this direction?

  2. From a rider’s (my) point-of-view, I think this is very good legislation – ESPECIALLY the required customer service phone number. I tried to call Uber the other day and there was no phone number; I had to e-mail them.

    Thanks for this good work! I agree with commenter William Messenger that this took a lot of political courage.

  3. I think this is a good start. Just can’t have no regulation. Thanks for providing this summary.

  4. This will weed out all but the serious participants in offering ride sharing services. I do think this is the proper approach to handling the taxi “problem” especially in Boston with the corrupt medallion situation by use of market forces.

  5. Great bill. Well done. The insurance minimums are important and adequate. Now if we could just raise the inadequate taxi insurance minimums to what TNCs must have for coverage — and eliminate the loophole that allows taxis to have no insurance by posting a $10,000 bond.

  6. The fee going to existing taxi or livery businesses got hearty chuckles from across the nation. Needless to say: taxing disruptive businesses and using the money to fund the less innovative companies being supplanted doesn’t make much economic sense. Should Ford have had to paid a surcharge on each car sold so that the horse and buggy makers could help find their way into the automobile business?? That said: how does the bill define “small businesses operating in the taxi, livery or hackney industries”? My understanding is that most cab company owners did quite well. How is the State defining a “small” vs. non-small business? Or is it at the discretion of MDFA to decide that? From personal experience: I couldn’t catch an Uber and rode a traditional taxi home from Logan earlier in August and noted that the company in question was already promoting its mobile app for hailing cabs on the in-car video display, so they appear to have already made the transition to the Uber/Lyft model.

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