Gimmie a lift

by Chris Hennen January 21st, 2015 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

As popular rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft consider expansion to Fargo, they may have to decide what impact some regulation currently being discussed at both city and state levels would have on their business. The Fargo City Commission this week exempt the ride hailing companies from new taxi regulations after concerns were raised about them. They did, however, direct the city attorney’s office to come up with separate regulations for the ride share companies.

At the same time, State Representative George Keiser (R-Bismarck) has proposed a bill this legislative session that would require any transportation company that is hauling passengers for commercial purposes to have some sort of insurance or liability coverage for its customers. Currently he said companies like Uber and Lyft operate without such requirements in some major cities. However, concerns are being raised that proposed legislation is too strict and may actually prevent Uber or Lyft from coming to the state. Hearings on the proposed legislation begin next week and usually the rideshare companies have representatives of the company show up at legislatures to give their views on the impact of new regulations.

“What the bill does is it requires coverage for the risk associated with their business model,” Kaiser said. “Most people don’t realize, for example, most personal passenger auto policies have a very clear exclusion for commercial use. So if one decides to use their personal vehicle for commercial use, there’s an exclusion that removes coverage especially on the liability side. So that creates a situation where passengers don’t realize that there is no liability coverage from the transportation provider.

“We’re not trying to eliminate it. We’re just trying to make sure that everyone understands that. In contrast, when you ride in a cab, they don’t have that exclusion and if they are in a wreck you have the right in the courts to sue and do all sorts of things, you’ve got coverage for this risk associated with accidents, etc.”

Uber and Lyft differ from traditional cab companies in that customers use an app when they need a ride to connect directly with drivers in their immediate region, then they negotiate a price for their ride and no cash is involved -- payment is settled electronically, through the app.

These services can be extremely helpful during a high traffic time. Customers can find and contact whomever is available in their region directly, versus waiting for dispatch to send someone to you. Usually rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft are also cheaper than traditional taxi services.

Joe Burgum, Fargo, is an Uber and Lyft fan. He has used the service many times when visiting larger cities and has become an advocate for the companies to expand to his hometown. He said he has no financial interest in that actually happening, he’s just doing so as a consumer who enjoys the service.

“I am just a citizen activist. My only relation…

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