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Rideshare companies plan to park in Arizona

PHOENIX — Ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber aren’t letting
vetoed legislation that would have allowed them to operate legally keep them
from expanding in Arizona, the Arizona Capitol Times reported Saturday.

“We will continue to stand strong as a community and do everything possible to
ensure that we will have a path worked out to allow ridesharing to thrive in
Arizona,” Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelen said. “We’re still evaluating the next
step now, but we’re continuing to operate.”

Gov. Jan Brewer put the brakes last week on legislation that would have
exempted rideshare businesses from insurance regulations imposed on traditional
taxi and livery companies. The governor in her veto letter said House Bill 2262
did not offer fundamental safeguards that protect passengers.

“Consumer safety must not be sacrificed for the sake of innovation,” Brewer
wrote in her veto letter.

Brewer took issue with several provisions of the bill, including the part that
exempts ride-share companies from the commercial insurance requirements that
require traditional taxi and livery companies to insure drivers at all times on
the job.

“In the larger context, this uncovered exposure likely would have led to
significant increases in insurance rates for all Arizona consumers and
unnecessary litigation,” she wrote.

The Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, which regulates taxi companies
in the state, said rideshare companies are providing services illegally. Shawn
Marquez, the department’s director of compliance programs, said civil penalties
for offering the service without mandatory insurance or drivers with commercial
licenses can be between $200 and $500 per violation.

“They’re transporting people, (but) they don’t have commercial insurance, they
don’t have commercial plates. At this point, they’re not legal. They are
considered right now just pirate (taxis),” Marquez said.

As a result, state officials out inspecting taxis and limousines at big events
will cite any rideshare drivers, Marquez said. Local police can also ticket
them, he added.

Ridesharing companies have argued that they are more like technology businesses
because of the use of a smartphone application to bring passengers and drivers
into contact for a fee. A price of a ride is based on the time and distance
traveled and a supply and demand rubric that charges more during high-traffic
periods. The companies get a percentage of the payment, and the rest goes to the

During the legislative session, supporters of rideshare companies had argued
that a veto would result in a loss of jobs. The companies after the vote said in
a statement that “ridesharing as we know it is dead in Arizona.” However, a
spokeswoman for Uber said the company is still evaluating options in Arizona.
The company continues to operate in the state.

The companies have faced shut-down attempts in other cities for not getting
approval by transportation regulators. But Lyft spokeswoman Thelen said the
company was able to negotiate with local regulators in California and can now be
legally licensed there. Lyft hopes to reach a compromise with the Department of
Weights and Measures in Arizona, she said.

Meanwhile, Lyft’s drivers are aware they could be ticketed, Thelen said.


Information from: Arizona Capitol Times,


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