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.
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger