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Businesses Transportation

Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers 216

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that In an abrupt U-turn, the California Department of Motor Vehicles late Friday retracted its finding that drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar must obtain commercial license plates. That determination — based on a 1935 state law — ignited a firestorm of criticism from the San Francisco startups and their supporters as stifling innovation. Commercial licenses are cumbersome to obtain, meaning they could impede the companies’ growth, which relies on getting new drivers, many of whom work just part time, into service quickly. And commercial registration probably would have necessitated that drivers get commercial insurance, which is significantly more expensive than personal auto insurance. Republican Assembly members threatened legislation over the “nonsensical” interpretation if the DMV didn’t reconsider its stance before Feb. 17. Now the department says it will do just that. That doesn't mean drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft can expect to be left alone by the DMV, though, which according to the article "will meet with regulators and the industry to work through the issue."
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Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

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  • Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:17AM (#48898577) Homepage

    Why, exactly, should Uber drivers get to drive passengers using regular non-commercial drivers' insurance? Commercial insurance costs more because people who drive people around for a living are much more likely to cost the insurance companies more money. If you're letting them drive on non-commercial licenses than that means that regular drivers are subsidizing Uber-drivers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Why, exactly, should Uber drivers get to drive passengers using regular non-commercial drivers' insurance?

      I once drove some of my daughter's friends home from a birthday party. Should I have had to have a commercial driver's license?

      Do remember that, theoretically, Uber/Lyft types aren't doing this full time, but more a matter of "I'm heading out to Walmart, anyone want to come along?".

      And yes, I know that theory and practice aren't necessarily the same....

      • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:24AM (#48898609)

        I once drove some of my daughter's friends home from a birthday party. Should I have had to have a commercial driver's license?

        How much were you paid?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Wait, I thought it was about the extra risk of driving passengers around. You're saying money changing hands impacts how often the accidents happen?

          • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:49AM (#48898729)

            Wait, I thought it was about the extra risk of driving passengers around.

            No. Commercial licenses are not required for "driving passengers around". They are required for commercial (paid) driving.

            You're saying money changing hands impacts how often the accidents happen?

            No, but money changing hands (commerce) impacts whether it is "commercial", and requires a commercial license. If we aren't going to require commercial licenses for commercial driving, then why even have them at all? Why should taxi drivers need commercial licenses either? Uber/Lyft should be allowed to compete in a fair marketplace, and taxi monopolies should be abolished. But that should not be done by giving them special privileges that taxis don't have. We should not swap one rigged system for another.

            • Why should taxi drivers need commercial licenses either?

              Higher standards? Many jursdictions ensure things like ahigher standard of driving, limited working hours, provision of adequate insurance, background checks for certain criminal activity and so on.

              I like being able to buy a random electrical device and be reasonably sure because of regulations that it it nulikely to burst into flames. Likewise I like being able to order random taxis with good liklihood that I won't get a criminal, nuinsured, sleep de

            • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @03:54PM (#48900197) Journal

              No, but money changing hands (commerce) impacts whether it is "commercial", and requires a commercial license.

              "Impacts", perhaps. But it's not definitive. Especially in California.

              For instance: I bought a pickup truck, to use as a tow vehicle for my camper and my wife's boat. Then I discovered that CA requires pickup trucks to be tagged with a (VERY pricey) commercial license, regardless of whether they're used for business. (You CAN petition to tag a particular pickup truck as a personal vehicle - but are then subject to being issued a very pricey ticket if you are ever caught carrying anything in the truck bed - even if it's personal belongings or groceries, and regardless of whether you're being paid to do it. (Since part of the POINT of having a pickup truck is to carry stuff home from the store this would substantially reduce its utility.)

              The one upside is that I get to park for short times in loading zones.

              If we aren't going to require commercial licenses for commercial driving, then why even have them at all?

              And if we ARE going to require them for clearly personal, non-commercial vehicles that happen to be "trucks", why NOT impose this requirement on putatively commercial vehicles that happen to be cars as well?

              The real answer to your question is "because the state wants the tax money, and the legislators and bureaucrats will seek it in any way that doesn't threaten their reelection, reappointment, or election to higher office" - in the most jerrymandered state in the Union. The Uber case is one where an appraent public outcry arose, bringing the bureaucrats' actions, and public outcry about them, to the attention of elected officials.

              The full form of the so-called "Chinese curse" is: "May you live in interesting times and come to the attention of people in high places."

              • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @04:12PM (#48900283) Journal

                Wow! Really?!

                That's just one more argument against living in California then.

                IMO, the *real* reason for commercial licenses was the concept that commercial drivers are driving much larger vehicles that require special training/skills to operate safely on the roadways. (Your average licensed driver can't just hop into an 18-wheeler and operate it. They'd likely not even be able to figure out the transmission with as many gear as it has!) And the ability to properly back one up into a loading dock isn't something that comes without training either.

                A vehicle anyone buys at a regular car dealership and uses as a "daily driver" for things like commuting or trips to the grocery store should NOT require a commercial license.

                The states ALL want tax revenue, but there are ways to go about it that make relative degrees of common sense to citizens. When they start making unreasonable, illogical demands, it's time to get that changed or consider moving to a more reasonable place.

                • IMO, the *real* reason for commercial licenses was the concept that commercial drivers are driving much larger vehicles that require special training/skills to operate safely on the roadways.

                  I'm pretty sure the real reason is to make more money from licensing people who are in turn making a profit from that license. The gov't could just issue a straight vehicle license and leave it up to the owner of a vehicle to get whatever training is required to operate it safely, but they don't because there's more money to be had from fees on commercial enterprises.

                  If Uber or Lyft drivers are getting paid to drive passengers around then they should have to follow the same rules as other commercial drivers. Maybe those rules should be changed. Maybe regulations on cab companies are unduly restrictive to limit competition and that should be fixed. But, I don't think a "cab" company that just happens to allow its passengers to find rides using the internet should get a pass on the rules that cab companies with proper dispatchers and fleets have to follow.

                  If the rules are useless or harmful, change the rules. Don't grant exemptions just because the internet is involved.

                • You can purchase an 18 wheeler for private personal use and drive it as a camper. The problem is the federal law designates anything with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds as a commercial vehicle or if the vehicle is designed to seat more than 16 people including the driver. There are exceptions for private non-commercial uses. Some 3/4 ton pickup trucks and almost all 1 ton or better pickup trucks fall within this category. The state however does the licensing and can be a little loo

                  • by dryeo ( 100693 )

                    I'd imagine that you'd still need an air ticket to drive an 18 wheeler camper, at least if it has air brakes.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      by sumdumass ( 711423 )

                      Actually, a lot of the state's got rid of the air brake endorsements. I was completely shocked when I was purchasing a class 7 medium duty single axle box truck that came stock with air brakes as it's a non-CDL truck and I was under the old assumption that the air brakes made it a CDL truck because of the endorsement. My state got rid of the requirements and I can no longer find them on the FMCSA website and a search shows a lot of other state's do not bother any more.

                      I think it has to do with technology th

                • When he says "pickup trucks require commercial license" he is not talking your average Toyota pickups or F150's - he is talking F350+ commercial size ones.

              • by dryeo ( 100693 )

                That is bizarre. Here in BC if a vehicle has a GVW over 5000kg it is classified as commercial but can still be insured for pleasure use only and probably insured for commuting to work. Any actual commercial use requires a number from the federal government and I'm not sure of the procedure for that. Lots of people would crank up the GVW on their small trucks to avoid the smog tests.
                Under 5000kgs you can get artisan insurance for hauling your trade tools around if you're are a contractor or such and avoid th

              • Your whole story boils down to "Pickup trucks are usually used for business and the State of California knows it so that is the default. You can license a pickup in a non-business way if you want to, though, by checking a checkbox."

                Yeah. So what's the problem?

                This is ridiculous: "subject to being issued a very pricey ticket if you are ever caught carrying anything in the truck bed - even if it's personal belongings or groceries". I looked it up and I couldn't even find cranks complaining about that much les

              • >For instance: I bought a pickup truck, to use as a tow vehicle for my camper and my wife's boat. Then I discovered that CA requires pickup trucks to be tagged with a (VERY pricey) commercial license, regardless of whether they're used for business.

                What the hell kind of pickup truck are you driving? My father's got an enormous GMC R3500 from the late 80s and it works just fine for hauling and towing a variety of things, and he's got it on a normal license.

                I suspect you're pissed off because you did
          • No, but doing a job for money makes one a "professional". There is a very distinct difference for a good reason, or perhaps you would be happy trusting your unlicensed gas fitter, or surgeon.
            • perhaps you would be happy trusting your unlicensed gas fitter, or surgeon.

              Don't forget about barbers, hairdressers, and interior decorators. Just imagine what would happen to our civilization if people could cut hair, or pick out curtains, without a license from the government.

              Barber licensing requirements by state. [barber-schools.org]
              State Licensing Guide for Interior Decorators. [iida.org]

              • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

                by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @01:38PM (#48899357)

                Don't forget about barbers, hairdressers, and interior decorators. Just imagine what would happen to our civilization if people could cut hair, or pick out curtains, without a license from the government.

                Or police! We could have unlicensed/untrained police shooting or choking unarmed men, women and children ... oh wait... I guess, they'd technically be called militia, vigilantes or terrorists, so that would probably be okay then.

          • by penix1 ( 722987 )

            You're saying money changing hands impacts how often the accidents happen?

            The short answer is yes. It is an economy of scale. Money changing hands means more passengers to be profitable. More passengers means more chances for accidents involving payouts. More payouts means more risk thus higher premiums.

            Now to put it in the proper context:

            The key word in this isn't insurance. It is commercial. Any time you have dealings with the general public there is an increased risk they will sue (some for just about an

          • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

            by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @01:51PM (#48899421)

            Wait, I thought it was about the extra risk of driving passengers around. You're saying money changing hands impacts how often the accidents happen?

            Increasing the amount of miles you drive on a daily basis will alter the odds you will be in an accident. Being a for hire service makes the odds of a lawsuit higher. So, more time in traffic, more passengers of unknown temperament expecting commercial quality service and protection, no mandated maintenance or inspections. I would expect commercial insurance and drivers license to be a minimum in every state.
            My insurance went up when I reported increasing my miles per year, and I don't have a passenger that will sue on board... I'd also bet there will now be language in your insurance policy that voids all but minimum coverage if you use the vehicle for commercial gain without having previously reported that fact to your insurer. If they write a policy, the type use of the vehicle is stated in the policy, mine has been for years. Non-commercial, no other drivers, under 12,500 miles annually... all in black and white...
            I wonder if Uber drivers insurance policies are already actually void due to fine print.

        • A couple cups of coffee plus some pastries by the parents of the other girls.
      • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:29AM (#48898643) Homepage

        That falls into statistically normal usage. Being a commercial driver absolutely does not. Statistically, a commercial driver drives way more than a noncommercial driver, and they're much more likely to be sued, and for more money. It's absurd to argue that they should be able to drive on insurance rates calculated for statistical norms of noncommercial drivers. If you allow that sort of ignoring of statistics then you might as well get rid of all statistical tables period and charge every last person the same rate for all types of insurance.

        • Statistically, a commercial driver drives way more than a noncommercial driver, and they're much more likely to be sued, and for more money. It's absurd to argue that they should be able to drive on insurance rates calculated for statistical norms of noncommercial drivers.

          The number of miles you drive every year is one of the factors used to calculate your non-commercial insurance rate. Go read your complete auto insurance policy if you don't believe me. There's a line in there for number of miles driven

        • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Interesting)

          by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @12:54PM (#48899117)
          So, what's to stop an insurance company from working with the ride share companies to offer up commercial coverage to anyone driving using the company's ride share app? Some smart insurer is going to go down this path and make a lot of money. Certainly, with almost a million drivers, someone like Uber would have the clout to negotiate the lowest commercial rates on the planet. That would be absolutely no different than what taxi unions have been doing for decades, just at a larger scale. The only difference in this case, apparently, is that it's OK when a union working under a gov't sanctioned artificial scarcity (medallions) does it, and absolutely horrific and unfair when an evil corp like Uber does it.
          • So, what's to stop an insurance company from working with the ride share companies.../snip

            Government bureaucrats & officials, and the innumerable laws, rules, and regulations at local, State and Federal levels at their disposal to interpret however they wish unless/until there's enough public attention and outrage to force the issue.

            The same government that prevents Tesla Motors from selling cars directly and also in many areas limits the choices available for domestic home high speed internet services. The same government that completely ignores the US Constitution and shits all over the 4t

          • "what's to stop an insurance company from working with the ride share companies to offer up commercial coverage to anyone driving using the company's ride share app? "

            I'm not positive about this, but probably the law.

        • Even if you look at it on a per mile basis? Or per hour?
      • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Informative)

        by alen ( 225700 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:30AM (#48898653)

        that's the marketing nonsense from Uber. in reality you are nothing more than a taxi cab except you are using your own car, have no commercial insurance and Uber/Lyft act as the dispatcher instead of some local cab company taking calls

      • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Xenx ( 2211586 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:34AM (#48898669)
        The difference is the Uber/Lyft drivers are actually employed to do the driving. Realistically, the drivers wouldn't be giving those passengers a ride if they weren't being paid for it. From a personal standpoint, I don't have a problem with the driver not having commercial insurance. However, in that case the company needs to insure the driver when "on duty".
        • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:45AM (#48898711) Homepage Journal

          I don't have a problem with the driver not having commercial insurance. However, in that case the company needs to insure the driver when "on duty".

          Well, Uber at least already does this. However, your normal insurance company might refuse to cover you at all, defining the activity as commercial and thus outside of your policy. Then you won't have the legally mandated-and-approved minimum required insurance, and you'll be driving uninsured and thus illegally. Technically, probably pretty much all of this activity is illegal because of restrictions on commercial activity in personal liability insurance policies.

          Whether the insurance companies should be allowed to do that to you is the real root question which we need to answer. My argument is that if someone isn't safe enough to drive people around for money, then they're not really safe enough to drive at all. If we need more stringent driving tests and vehicle inspections before we permit anyone to drive for any purpose, then okay, let's have those. But there's nothing transformative about accepting money for an activity: the activity remains the same. You are basically required to make some money to not be a criminal — homelessness is more or less illegal, and having a home requires some money due to taxes at the minimum. In that light, any restraint of trade which is not absolutely necessary is abhorrent, since it interferes with the citizen's ability not just to exist at all, but also to exist within the law.

          • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
            Insurance companies should not (don't) have to cover ride-sharing under a personal policy. The drivers are for-hire drivers, in some capacity. Those drivers wouldn't spend as much time on the road, and would have fewer passengers in the car, if it weren't for their commercial activities. That means more chances of an accident, and a higher payout if/when there is one.They definitely have every right to require you pay extra, or not be covered when "on duty".

            As for Uber providing coverage, I did read that a
            • Those drivers wouldn't spend as much time on the road,

              insurance estimates already account for this by charging for mileage

              and would have fewer passengers in the car, if it weren't for their commercial activities.

              They don't penalize you for having a family, although then you have more passengers in the car, unless you plan to let some of those family members drive. What's the difference?

              As for Uber providing coverage, I did read that at least one did offer coverage for anything the insurance company doesn't cover.

              Well, they do, but only while you are carrying a passenger.

              • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
                Wow... Ok, I can't handle that level of idiocy today. If you can't tell the difference between doing something as a job, or not.... I'm done.
                • If you can't tell the difference between doing something as a job, or not...

                  You can't even tell what the argument is.

                  I'm done.

                  Good. About fucking time.

                  • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
                    Wow, what a fucking asshole. It's not my fault you've got your head up your ass. Get over yourself.
          • by codegen ( 103601 )

            I don't have a problem with the driver not having commercial insurance. However, in that case the company needs to insure the driver when "on duty".

            Well, Uber at least already does this.

            Actually Uber does not do this. They cover the driver when he has a passenger, but not when he is on call. This is in fact one of the issues that has been raised, and several jurisdictions have been discussing regulations requiring the Uber cover the driver when on call.

          • Whether the insurance companies should be allowed to do that to you is the real root question which we need to answer.

            Sure. Why not? Commercial drivers spend a *lot* more time on the road, so they're much more likely to need to call in the insurance. Non-commercial insurance is substantially cheaper.

          • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Dragon Bait ( 997809 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @02:24PM (#48899625)

            My argument is that if someone isn't safe enough to drive people around for money, then they're not really safe enough to drive at all. If we need more stringent driving tests and vehicle inspections before we permit anyone to drive for any purpose, then okay, let's have those.

            I appreciate your argument, but I think you're wrong. I think there is more risk to reward trade-off analysis to be applied. There's a major difference between the risks of a person driving two blocks to the grocery store and someone driving a 25-mile school bus route. I want more scrutiny on the bus driver than the mom going for a carton of milk.

            When it comes to Uber-Lyft, I admit that I'm on the fence. There certainly should be a regulatory even playing field: either apply existing taxi laws to the Uber-Lyft drivers or remove those restrictions and regulations from the taxis.

            Claiming "free market" when one side is regulated and the other isn't is disingenuous.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I once drove some of my daughter's friends home from a birthday party. Should I have had to have a commercial driver's license?

        You did it once? Then you were doing a favor for your daughter? Then you're probably ok. Unless you had too many people in your car, then if you got into an accident, you might find that you weren't covered. I don't know your policies, but it could happen.

        Do it frequently? Then there are issues with your conduct.

        Do remember that, theoretically, Uber/Lyft types aren't doing this full time, but more a matter of "I'm heading out to Walmart, anyone want to come along?".

        And yes, I know that theory and practice aren't necessarily the same....

        In practice, it's...do you want to pay to come with me? And Uber/Lyft are themselves a fully commercial operation. They make lots of money on this. Do we want them to guarantee that they wil

      • I once drove some of my daughter's friends home from a birthday party. Should I have had to have a commercial driver's license?

        No, but you should have been arrested for transporting minors for immoral purposes.

        Oh, and how much do your "daughter's friends" charge for a "birthday party" ?

        Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more . . .

      • Why, exactly, should Uber drivers get to drive passengers using regular non-commercial drivers' insurance?

        I once drove some of my daughter's friends home from a birthday party. Should I have had to have a commercial driver's license?

        You probably need something else because, apparently, you can't read. The OP said "insurance" and you replied with "license"; OP said "drive people around for a living" (many over time) and you replied with "I once drove some of my daughter's friends home" (many one time). Seriously, OP offered *one* short paragraph and you fucked up reading comprehension 101.

      • > Do remember that, theoretically, Uber/Lyft types aren't doing this full time, but more a matter of "I'm heading out to Walmart, anyone want to come along?".

        Theoretically yes, in reality that's about as far from the truth as you can get for Uber drivers.

      • "I once drove some of my daughter's friends home from a birthday party. Should I have had to have a commercial driver's license?"

        Yes, of course you should.

        I assume that the little girls paid you, of course, because if not then then your comment is curiously irrelevant.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Insurance companies just need to start dropping anyone who drives for Uber and create a new category of insurance for them (which would most likely be the most expensive bracket there is, considering they're driving around customers professionally all day long with no special training whatsoever).

      • Insurance companies just need to start dropping anyone who drives for Uber and create a new category of insurance for them (which would most likely be the most expensive bracket there is, considering they're driving around customers professionally all day long with no special training whatsoever).

        They have that. It's called "commercial insurance". Same as other taxi drivers. The reason Uber doesn't like this is that they are not competitive when they have to compete on even terms.

    • Uber pays for insurance, therefore there is no 'subsidy' and the risk to Uber passengers is comparable to BETTER then commercial taxi services. Better because Uber pays for more insurance then required by law. There are plenty of cab companies that only go for the minimum.

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

    • I'm not familiar how California does their licenses and insurance. Are they tied together so that when you renew your plates you are also paying for your insurance?

    • No, it just means they'll get their claims declined when they find out the person was breaching their personal insurance agreement.

    • Why, exactly, should Uber drivers get to drive passengers using regular non-commercial drivers' insurance?

      They don't really, this is why Uber and Lyft both provide supplemental insurance for drivers.

      Commercial insurance costs more because people who drive people around for a living are much more likely to cost the insurance companies more money

      That's bullshit because the cost of personal insurance is partly factored in by miles driver per year, so that risk is ALREADY INCLUDED.

      If you're letting them drive

    • You are missing the point. Lyft already provides commercial insurance for its drivers when they are driving passengers - I am sure same is true of others. This would require the drivers to carry commercial plates/insurance on personal vehicles when NOT on used for work.

  • by NixieBunny ( 859050 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:27AM (#48898625) Homepage
    Uber and Lyft may be a hobby for some people, but they are a job for others. The commercial auto license, like the commercial driver's license, is a binary distinction. I'm going to make some popcorn and enjoy this fight.
    • Uber and Lyft may be a hobby for some people, but they are a job for others. The commercial auto license, like the commercial driver's license, is a binary distinction

      And one which California in particular already applies unfairly so as to steal money from the citizenry. Any pickup truck over a fairly low weight has to be registered as a commercial vehicle. You don't need a commercial license to drive a commercial vehicle unless you use it for a commercial purpose, but you still have to pay more for the registration because California. There are many legitimate non-commercial uses to which a person might put a pickup truck heavy enough to trigger this fraudulent surcharg

      • Since road damage is exponentially proportional to vehicle weight, heavier trucks *should* be paying more in fees.

      • >. which is actually way down somewhere below 5,500 lb.

        As you can see on the DMV page, it's 10,000 pounds - twice the weight of 2014 F-250.

        https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/... [ca.gov]

        An F-750 heavy hauler with Caterpillar engine does qualify as a commercial vehicle.

        You other assertions of fact are approximately as accurate.

  • read your contract (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@@@poetic...com> on Sunday January 25, 2015 @11:59AM (#48898777)

    Your insurance papers will probably make it clear that you are NOT covered for commercial use of your vehicle. Even if you don't read the policy, you know in your heart that commercial drivers pay more than ordinary drivers. Lots of people think they can deceive their insurance carrier and save money. The company gets the last laugh when it's time to pay for a claim. Any deception on the part of the insured is likely to negate the contract and no claim will be awarded. Yes, possibly years of payments to that company and all for nothing because you lied.

    Like the people who watch your credit worthiness and the people who observe you for terrorist tendencies, the insurance industry has vast resources focused on you. If you try to cheat any insurance company, the word is spread and none of them want to deal with you. If you can get insurance it will be very expensive. Honesty is the best policy.

  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @12:16PM (#48898889)
    Do I understand the need for insurance and regulation? Sure. But the people have very clearly spoken on this one. They *love* ride share services. They love everything about them -- the convenience, the cost (surge pricing notwithstanding), the experience, you name it. Ride shares are superior to and more efficient than traditional taxis in every way. Gov't needs to quit playing the fear mongering "Uber drivers will rape you" card and figure out how to facilitate what the people want rather than cow-towing to medallion-sanctioned monopolies. Scream all you want but the genie is out of the bottle and he ain't going back in.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Calibax ( 151875 ) *

      My wife used Uber once. The vehicle was not clean, the driver was (in her words) creepy, she didn't like his driving, and he insisted on playing music she thought obnoxious. All in all, she quite unhappy with the whole experience. She insists that we'll be staying with taxis.

      • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @12:44PM (#48899065)
        Purely anecdotal . . . search the Net and you'll find many more stories attesting to the exact opposite. And good for her . . . that's her choice. My choice (and the choice of many others) is to never take a taxi again. The insane growth of the ride share industry, however, is proof positive that people are readily embracing any alternative to the gov't-sanctioned artificial scarcity known as medallion-based traditional taxi services.
  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @12:34PM (#48898993)

    Commercial licenses are cumbersome to obtain...

    Maybe the DMV should streamline the process instead of lowering the requirements? In fact, living in CA I can say that the DMV has pretty reasonable objective requirements/policies even when they have godawful process/implementation.

    They should make it trivially easy for anyone that meets a set of clearly-defined objective requirements -- training, insurance, inspection, whatever else -- to get a commercial license. I don't even particularly care what the content of those requirements is -- so long as they are non-arbitrary and enforced even-handedly.

    [ In fact, they ought to do the same for cabs -- write up the requirements, then implement them. Most of the reason for Uber is that cities had these absurd fixed-number-of-medallions systems anyway. By doing that they ultimately authored their own destruction. ]

    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      What exactly does cumbersome mean here? Does it
      (a) Require a lot of time, hassle and/or paperwork?
      (b) Cost high fees to obtain and maintain it?
      (c) Require a much higher level of driving skills than non-commercial DL?

      Also, what's the difference in cost for non-commercial vs commercial insurance, typically?

      • Mostly (a). For instance, most registration can be done online but comercial still requires an in-person trip to the DMV. The fees are also higher for no perceptible reason, but (c) is off the mark since we are talking about commercial vehicle registration, not commercial driver licensing.

        As to the last question, I don't think it matters. If the State wants to impose a uniform insurance requirement (details tbd) on all taxis and similar ride services, they can go ahead and do that directly and clearly. Ther

    • Maybe the DMV should streamline the process instead of lowering the requirements?

      Part of the Commercial Drivers License Test [dmv.org] includes questions like "The phrase gross combination weight is figured by adding together what?". Is it reasonable to require you know the answer when you are just driving a person around in a passenger car?

      The reason why the commercial drivers license test is way too onerous is that it's really meant for people driving trucks or other specialized vehicles. What aspect of the exist

  • Taxes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Imagix ( 695350 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @12:35PM (#48899003)
    Hmmm.. I'm curious as to how many of the people are declaring the income from the ride sharing to the IRS (or CRA for Canada, or whomever is the taxation authority in the region where they're operating). Followed by how many are deducting vehicle expenses from the income, etc.
  • House of Cards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2015 @02:07PM (#48899519)

    If drivers need to get commercial plates, they'll need to update their insurance carrier at which point they will likely be informed they need commercial insurance. The cost of commercial insurance will eat into the thin margins for Uber drivers, causing some to drop off of the platform. Given Uber's already high turn over for drivers, this will reduce the number of new drivers willing to flow into their system.

    Really, Uber is a house of cards. Eventually, divers' cars are going to age and the replacement cost is going to be a massive hit. Drivers are going to start forgoing maintenance (not great for safety), driving while tired, etc... to try and beef up their margins. There's probably a 3 year timeline before this hammer comes down, faster if new drivers stop flowing into the system due to new insurance requirements. My guess is the goal is to IPO and cash out before the whole thing comes down.

    There is no way around the maintenance or replacement costs drivers are going to incur. Taxis don't drive older, easy to fix cars because they're hording massive profits. It's because they need to do it to try and maintain a decent profit margin. Give it a few years and you'll be riding in an Uber with a low cost Macco paint job, bald tires and a check engine light covered with a piece of electrical tape. Without regulation, no one will be checking and drivers will be looking for every way to squeeze more profit out of each ride. And before someone replies with "People will just rate down the driver".... ask yourself how you'll know the tires are bald and the check engine light is glowing under a piece of tape. Maybe the CV joint boots are ripped and dirt is happy grinding itself into the bearings, waiting to fail spectacularly. If you feel comfortable taking the chance with your life or your family's life, that's your decision, but I don't want one of these cars slamming into me on the highway.

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      These services all (as far as I know anyway) have requirements that vehicles being used have to be newer than a certain age. And it would be fairly easy for the services to require a mechanical inspection of the car before you are allowed to start driving or even on an annual basis (many jurisdictions already have requirements for regular inspections of cars or inspections when you sell the car or whatever so the infrastructure is probably there)

  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @02:21PM (#48899597)
    All medallions do is create taxi cartels, barriers to entry for others wishing to participate in the market, a complete lack of competition, and insane profits for the medallion owners (not the drivers). It is a system that just begs for abuse and it's disgusting that this type of situation is not only condoned, but advocated by our municipal governments. It is only because of the ride share apps that these dinosaurs are finally being wiped out by their own well-deserved asteroid. http://www.washingtonpost.com/... [washingtonpost.com]
  • by Guillermito ( 187510 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @02:29PM (#48899663) Homepage

    I thought the general principle was that if you are making a profit off publicly-funded infrastructure (in this case, roads) you should be taxed more than the general public, hence the special license for commercial vehicles. I can't see why uber and the like should be exempted.

    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      Because it "stifles innovation" - you certainly can't expect start-ups to play by the same rules as the companies they are competing with, can you?

      Reminds me of one version of the "pro net neutrality" argument - if you allow existing companies (with their massive resources) to pay for improved bandwidth to customers, then how will the under-funded start-up ever compete? You must tie the hands of the entrenched companies to give their competitors a chance...

      • Maybe it's not fair that a startup paid as much as an stablished company. But maybe it's not fair that they used the publicly-funded infrastructure for free either.

  • by Stan92057 ( 737634 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @02:30PM (#48899677)
    Why is the DMV kowtowing to a commercial business? If this was in my state i would be raising hell. Sorry, i am not in uber corner here. Name some or any business that doesn't require a License when dealing with the public. I cant think of any, be it a plumber to an insurance salesperson. Uber is no different, we don't need MORE corporations getting out of paying there fair-share in taxes,fees. umber doesn't need loopholes in car repairs and proof of commercial passenger service insurance. Im betting the Auto insurance industry would have some hefty insurance premiums to those they find out are using there personal non commercial cars for commercial passenger service vehicles.
    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

      I think you're looking at this from the wrong angle, myself.

      Someone deciding to make some extra money on the side driving for Uber doesn't need a "commercial license" from the DMV! What they probably DO need is a special car insurance policy or rider that covers the situation.

      Just like if I upgrade my car with a fancy, multi-thousand dollar stereo system -- I can't expect my auto insurance to cover its replacement cost if it's stolen. They're going to say, "Sorry buddy. We insured you based on the standard

  • âoeOf all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Sunday January 25, 2015 @04:30PM (#48900399) Homepage Journal

    It's not like they are running a business out of their car... Oh wait.

    We have restrictions on running businesses out of the house, there should be similar restrictions for running a business in your auto.

    The real issue will be when a "personal use" driver damages his car (and potentially a paying passenger) when involved in a traffic accident AND the driver's private insurance refuses to cover the damage and any ensuing lawsuits.

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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