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Transportation Government

California Declares Carpooling Via Ride-Share Services Illegal 288

An anonymous reader writes: Ride-share companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar got letters from the California Public Utilities Commission this week telling them that carpool features for their services are illegal. "Basically, the CPUC says that under California law it's illegal for these ride-sharing services to charge passengers an individual fare when carrying multiple people in one vehicle. If the companies would like to add a carpool feature, they first have to request an adjustment to their existing permits with the CPUC or petition the state legislature to modify the law. Uber, Lyft and Sidecar all unveiled carpool features last month. The three companies say the feature lets strangers in multiple locations, but heading the same direction, share rides and split fares — saving passengers up to 50 percent per ride." This news arrives just as Uber gave in to the demands of striking drivers who claim the company is undermining their ability to earn a livable wage.
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California Declares Carpooling Via Ride-Share Services Illegal

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  • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:24PM (#47894999)

    Minicab companies.

    They are not 'ride sharing' or 'car pooling' or anything even similar.

    The business model is old and well established,at least in london.
    It means a cab service that does not use fully licensed drivers and vehicles, and cannot be just hailed on the street (must be booked).
    The fact that they take most of their bookings from phone apps/online makes no difference at all.
    It is just a private hire of transport service - they dont use cab ranks, they cannot pick up people who hail them.

    Perhaps if they had admitted this to begin with, they would not have faced the legal hurdles they have.

    • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:47PM (#47895139)

      " and cannot be just hailed on the street"

      Thats a good idea, make hail illegal. Can they do the same with straightline winds and tornados too?

    • Who makes these rules and why?
      • by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @10:32PM (#47895307)
        Taxi unions pressure legislatures to enact the laws. The purpose is to limit competition, to make more money.
        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Are there really taxi unions? Around here taxi drivers are lucky to make minimum wage. There are truckers unions and last year both unionized and non-unionized container truck drivers went on strike as the race to the bottom had gotten to the point where they couldn't maintain their vehicles, buy fuel and eat.

          • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

            Are there really taxi unions? Around here taxi drivers are lucky to make minimum wage.

            Taxi *owner* "unions". Though I doubt they're "unions" in the traditional sense. More likely "associations" like doctors or lawyers.

        • Bullshit. Those groups defend the laws, but they don't exist until the laws are passed. Licensed taxi drivers are a creation of regulation, not the creators of it.

          The laws get created because enough people get ripped off, killed, and otherwise hurt by a completely unregulated marketplace that politicians feel the need to take action. The environment and circumstances in which the regulations were passed are so long ago that knee-jerk libertarians can claim, with a straight face, that they really believe

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        Often commercial vehicles cut too many corners, kill people and regulations come about. Also as the sibling mentions, those who don't want to compete on the cost cutting and want to operate safe vehicles usually lobby for a level playing field.
        I'd hate to be in a business where the only way to make any money is to be totally unsafe. Tires, brakes etc cost money and eat into the bottom line.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      is a call center providing services for 10 minicab companies the minicab company?

      but yeah, they're minicab companies, but... is it illegal for the minicabs say in london to pick up two passangers from different locations and drive them at the same time to another city and drop them off at different locations and charge them different fares as if they were individual customers? the reason cab companies didn't fight these call-by-phone-only companies(not just uk, same in finland) was that it's not so easy as

  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:38PM (#47895079)

    I just need some gas money.

  • Arrrgh.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by fullback ( 968784 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:39PM (#47895089)

    Laws should be against the law.

    Don't hurt anyone, don't lie or steal from anyone and don't crap where we all live. There might be a few more, but probably not too many. All the rest is nonsense.

    • Don't hurt anyone, don't lie or steal from anyone and don't crap where we all live. ...

      Most laws are within the confines you set. So what's your point?

      • Don't hurt anyone, don't lie or steal from anyone and don't crap where we all live. ...

        Most laws are within the confines you set. So what's your point?

        But the law that gives the state the authority to restrict carpooling doesn't appear to be within those confines. Consenting adults should have the right to interact and do business with each other as they want without having to get permission first. .

    • by naff89 ( 716141 )

      Don't hurt anyone, don't lie or steal from anyone and don't crap where we all live.

      Sometimes we need specific laws to protect people from the nuanced, less-direct ways to "hurt" people or "steal" from them, like ripping them off or selling products that aren't reasonably safe.

      I think that if you examined all of the country's laws (of which I'll agree there are too many), I bet most would fall into one of your three categories.

  • No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:40PM (#47895095)

    I know everyone is all over Uber and and the other one because the cars are "nicer" and the service "better" than cabs. But I have a basic problem with Uber and Lift, and that is in the fakery of their liability claims. The facts are ( as presented in MANY news stories) if you get injured in an Uber or Lift car, those CORPORATE entities will deny virtually all liability. So you go after the driver, right? But guess what? He's not insured for paying passengers. SHELL GAME.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @10:52PM (#47895383)

      Except no, that's completely incorrect.

      http://blog.uber.com/uberXride... [uber.com]

    • I know everyone is all over Uber and and the other one because the cars are "nicer" and the service "better" than cabs. But [...]

      Um... isn't that enough?

      Firstly, you're wrong about the liability [uber.com].

      Secondly, you are confusing the possibility of injury with its probability.

      If the probability of injury is small and the cost of injury is also appreciably small, the expected cost of using Lyft or Uber may be much less than the expected cost of using a cab.

      For an example, if a ride-share is $6 less than a cab fare, and if there is an average of 1 injury every 100,000 rides, then if the average injury costs less than $600,000 then it's a bett

    • But I have a basic problem with Uber and Lift, and that is in the fakery of their liability claims.

      If that's what you believe, you have a simple solution: don't ride them.

      That's no reason to impose your preferences on others.

  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tms.infamous@net> on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:52PM (#47895153) Homepage

    "...it's illegal for these ride-sharing services to charge passengers an individual fare..."

    If you're charging for access to X (for any given X), you're not sharing, you're selling (or leasing). And you don't get to be exempt from consumer protection regulations just because you're doing your selling on the web.

    • by silfen ( 3720385 )

      And you don't get to be exempt from consumer protection regulations just because you're doing your selling on the web.

      There are no "consumer protection" laws. What you so foolishly refer to as "consumer protection" is the result of lobbying by special interests and corporations to enrich themselves.

  • by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @10:08PM (#47895211)
    Governments today restrict trade just like the church used to restrict speech. We think we are free because we can say what we want but we are not free. We cannot trade with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Freedom to trade is as much a threat to the authority of the modern Hobbesian state as speech was to the church when Galileo was alive. That's why you need permission to operate a carpool. In the future, when the world is more enlightened, freedom to trade will be as much a basic right as speech is today. No higher authority should be able to make it illegal for consenting adults to interact with one another.
    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      Your post is absurd, though I guess I should get it from your username.

      This is about someone getting paid to drive someone else somewhere for a profit (a significant portion of which is taken by a large company), and that person not being able to use the HOV lane. That's it.

      And what's wrong with that? It's not a carpool, it's a business. And in fact it often doesn't even get any cars off the street, anyway, so why should they get to use the HOV lane?

    • In the future, when the world is more enlightened, freedom to trade will be as much a basic right as speech is today.

      No. The same collectivist and PC-style urges that currently act to prevent free expression will continue to further intercede when you seek to trade with someone. Why? Because there will always be people who think it's unfair that you and someone else have found a mutually beneficial reason to interact, and they will use the force of government to take a piece of that benefit, pay career middlemen in the government to handle it, and hand some of that benefit over to other people who didn't manage to make t

    • by d'baba ( 1134261 )
      Is it September again?
    • by Locando ( 131600 )

      In the future, will the government also have the freedom to interact with (and send a symbolic message to) dogmatic free-marketeers by cutting off their access to the publicly owned roads on which they carpool, at least until they demonstrate at least a passing knowledge of the history of how markets and monetary systems were created by heads of state? That would be my utopian fantasy and I think it's better than yours.

    • Free markets have never existed. There's a good reason for that, they don't work. So stop pining for the nonexistent ideal, it's as useful as pining for communism.
  • Then declare that multiple physical people in a car are actually a corporation, ie, a single legal person.

  • I'm unsure if the law is the same in the US as commonwealth countries, however, this is the relevant legal construct. That to accept passengers you have to be a common carrier, and I wondered how ride share programs got around this.

    On the whole though, I think ride share is a good idea - though the odd crazy may be a bit spooky.

    • Re:Common Carrier (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @10:38PM (#47895337)

      The main differences between Uber and true ride share programs are profit motive and frequency. A true ride share program does not make a profit for the company or the drivers. When the driver is making a living by carrying passengers it is for profit and therefore no longer sharing. Profit gives a motive for cutting corners and decreasing safety. Frequency comes in the fact that the driver makes one trip while Uber drivers make several. The more the driver is on the road the bigger chance of an accident.

      • Wait, you're telling me that Uber drivers aren't trying to make a profit? That's news to me.
        • I am trying to tell you that Uber drivers are trying to make a profit and are therefore not "ride sharing" and Uber is not a ride share program.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @10:30PM (#47895295)
    Capitalism at work - an example of a government that's been bought and paid for. Yet another example of why too much of a good thing sucks immensely and capitalism moderated by the public having an equal say is better than the richest person getting to set the rules for everyone else.
  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @10:44PM (#47895361) Homepage Journal

    Apropos of nothing, when did we allow unelected regulators complete authority over the law?

    It seems that every regulator now has the authority to declare something illegal, judge that an infraction has occurred, assess fines, and force collection.

    If someone is in violation of a regulation, shouldn't the regulator present their evidence before a judge? Don't we want an unbiased 3rd party to chime in on whether the law is clear, whether the evidence merits a violation, and whether there are extenuating circumstances?

    The policy of default judgement by fiat, with a "go to court to reverse it if you think you've been wronged" is a recipe for injustice and corruption.

    When did we lose judicial oversight of our regulations? Did it happen slowly, or was it a sudden change?

  • The Uber drivers refusing to pickup passengers is a big example of market forces in action. It doesn't take an act of government to necessarily effect change. Uber needs its drivers so that it can turn a profit. Uber's drivers ultimately determine the financial success of Uber. Uber can threaten and cajole all it wants but when the day is said and done, no pickups mean angry customers and no revenue.

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