Bill to regulate ride-sharing service passes General Assembly

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 file photo, a driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a passenger in downtown Los Angeles, Calif. Passengers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport will be allowed to leave in an UberX car starting Thursday, Jan. 21. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The General Assembly has passed legislation requiring Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing services to submit to rules and regulations similar to taxis.

Under the bill, ride-sharing companies will have to:

  • Meet minimum insurance requirements
  • Register their vehicles and obtain permits from the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers
  • Perform background checks on drivers
  • Collect the state’s 7% sales tax from riders
  • Tell riders the fare in advance, and how it is calculated
  • Post pictures of their drivers on their apps and websites, along with drivers’ license plate numbers

Critics have said it was unfair that ride-sharing services did not have to follow the same rules and regulations as traditional taxis. Rep. John Edwards, who introduced the legislation in the House, said he wanted to level the playing field and encourage competition.

Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said the regulations were about safety, accountability, and fairness.

An Uber spokesperson said in a statement that the new regulations would ensure safe, convenient access to ride-sharing in Rhode Island.

“We thank the Rhode Island legislature for passing statewide regulations that create a more permanent home for ride-sharing in the Ocean State,” the Uber spokesperson said.

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