Uber and Lyft to stay in Louisville; taxi drivers concerned

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky enacted emergency rules last week for ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft that have operated in Louisville since last spring.

The regulations took effect Dec. 5 and will govern those and other businesses that allow people to arrange rides in contractors' personal vehicles through a smartphone or other mobile app.

The ride-sharing companies, competing taxi operators and state transportation and insurance officials worked for months crafting the rules, which include insurance and vehicle inspection requirements and driver background checks.

The regulations aim to “address an imminent risk to public safety caused by a lack of oversight of businesses on which the public increasingly relies for transportation,” Gov. Steve Beshear and Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock wrote in a filing with the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

Ride-sharing services in the state now must apply to operate in Kentucky and renew their applications every year; certify that each driver has undergone a national criminal background check; ensure drivers have $1 million in liability coverage while ferrying passengers; and be insured while awaiting requests for rides.

Among other requirements, the companies must keep a list of drivers and provide state officials records of complaints and whether – and why – a driver has rejected a ride request.

James Ondrey, an Uber general manager for the Kentucky region, said the regulations have a “lighter touch” than rules passed by other cities and states, placing the burden on the companies “to ensure things are in place.”

“The Transportation Cabinet has taken a great step to recognize this new, innovative business model and the nuances between some of the other for-hire vehicles that are regulated,” Ondrey said.


So far, no ride-sharing companies have applied to operate in Kentucky, Transportation Cabinet spokesman Ryan Watts said.

“Since the Cabinet filed the emergency regulation on Friday, we do not initially expect each company to be in full compliance. All companies must go through a detailed application process that takes time,” he said.

“Once the companies begin the process, we do expect them to have a certificate to operate. Thus far, both ride-sharing companies have cooperated with the Cabinet in establishing a legal framework for compliance.”

Despite the popularity of ride-sharing – Lyft users routinely heap praise on drivers via Twitter, and investors have valued Uber Technologies at $40 billion -- the companies recently faced legal action in California over the quality of their background checks.

In Kentucky, Louisville International Airport officials cited an Uber driver $100 for picking up a passenger – a violation of rules allowing only drop-offs. Ondrey said his company has had “ongoing discussions” with airport officials about permitting pick-ups as well at the airport

Previous coverage:

Ride-share companies brace for new Kentucky regulations (Sept. 2014)

Kentucky plans emergency rules for Uber, Lyft (Sept. 2014)

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