Kentucky planning emergency regulations for ride-share companies - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky planning emergency regulations for ride-share companies

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky plans to enact emergency regulations for ride-sharing businesses, such as Uber and Lyft, that have been operating in Louisville and Lexington without state oversight.

Rodney Kuhl, commissioner of Kentucky's Department of Vehicle Regulation, said the regulations are expected to be filed by October after input from the companies and taxicab operators, who have raised concerns about the legality and safety of the competing taxi-like services that operate in Louisville and Lexington.

Kuhl said state officials began meeting in May on the burgeoning ride-sharing industry in Kentucky. Among the issues being discussed are drivers' insurance requirements, background checks “and, of course, the impact on regulated, for-hire motor carriers, including our taxicabs and limousines,” he said.

“We just wanted to look for a level playing field for all of our parties involved,” Kuhl told lawmakers during a Tuesday meeting of the General Assembly's interim joint committee on transportation.

The proposed regulations, which have not been fully developed, will apply to what Kentucky is calling “taxicab transportation network companies,” or services that allow smartphone users to arrange rides via an app. Drivers use their own cars and only accept passengers who arrange a ride through the company's smartphone app, which is linked to a credit card.

Ride-sharing services have boomed in recent years. Uber, for example, is creating an estimated 20,000 new part-time driving jobs a month and generating an economic impact of $2.8 billion, a company official told the committee.

At the same time, with fleets of part-time drivers using their own vehicles to transport passengers, states across the nation have grappled with ensuring that the new industry is operating safely.

Kentucky officials are reviewing laws passed by Minnesota, Colorado and California, as well as regulations in Detroit, as they craft the emergency regulations, said Rebecca Goodman, executive director of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's office of legal services.

Goodman said cab companies will be able to offer their input on the regulations.

“I've had a couple of lobbyists who have made me sign that in blood,” she told lawmakers.

Taxi operators argue that the ride-sharing companies should be held to the same standards as regulated taxicab companies. They note a number of state and local governments have warned of potential liability issues, while four cities and two states have ordered Uber and Lyft to cease operations until the companies meet safety regulations.

But in remarks before the committee, Uber and Lyft representatives said their background checks and other requirements for drivers are, in some cases, stricter than those used by some taxi operators.

Steve Coston, president of Procarent, which operates Yellow Cab Kentucky, called ride-sharing a “great business model,” but said there are legitimate concerns about how Uber and Lyft operate.

“We are not here to stop competition,” Coston said.” … Let's figure out how to regulate all of the industry.”

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