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Legislation Proposes Changes to Taxicab Regulations and Authority

AB 650 Would Give Authority to California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

May 6, 2016
Assembly Member Evan Low’s (D-Campbell) AB 650 seeks to ‘level the playing field’ between taxis and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, by limiting taxicab regulations and shifting regulatory authority over taxicabs from local governments to the state, via the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) which currently has authority over TNCs.
In large part, cities and counties currently have unrestricted regulatory authority over the taxicab industry. AB 650 is another effort to address the heightening debate over disparate regulations for traditional taxicabs and emerging TNCs. Under the CPUC, AB 650 provides taxicabs pricing flexibility, larger operating boundaries, and no restrictions on number of vehicles.
The introduction of smart phone-enabled applications and new business models are shaking up the traditional taxicab industry. The emergence of companies that offer transportation services through mobile applications and often operate outside of regulatory reach has required state legislatures and local governments to rethink standing regulations. This legislative session, a number of bills have been introduced to regulate TNCs in similar fashion to taxicabs. However, debate continues over the appropriate regulatory response, including consideration of loosening taxicab regulations rather than strengthening rules for TNCs.
AB 650 (Low) is double referred to the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications and Transportation and Housing Committees. Hearing dates have not yet been set.
The League will continue to monitor this measure and assess its potential impact on local control.

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