San Francisco recently required Uber and Lyft drivers to obtain a business license before being granted permission to operate within the city and, while the two ride sharing companies have differing opinions on the matter, some good news arrived for both, courtesy of California Transport Regulators.
On April 21, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) finally approved commercial carpooling and this means that both Uber and Lyft, which operate UberPool and Lyft Line, respectively, now have permission to officially operate its carpool service in the State.
It should be a welcome change for both companies, considering both have been operating their respective carpool services since 2014.
Of course, that also means tighter restrictions especially on services that cater to minors. Further conditions include stricter reporting as well as background checks for its drivers. Still, it is a win-win situation for both the ride-sharing companies and the commuters who are looking to lessen their daily fares.
Commissioner Mike Florio, the only person who opposed the motion in a split 4-1 vote, does not feel like the decision is legal since it directly opposes a 50-year-old California law currently in place. The law states that commuters using a commercial ride service may not be charged separately and this is actually where the issue lies when it comes to carpooling services.
"These programs help people quickly and easily become a rideshare driver as a flexible way to make ends meet, and also help the state meet its environmental goals," a spokesperson from Lyft said.
"We are very happy that the Commission endorsed forward-thinking products like uberPOOL and listened to Californians advocating for programs to allow more drivers to earn money on their own time," an Uber spokesperson said.
But that is not all because Uber announced on its website that, as part of Earth Day celebrations, commuters in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. who opt for UberPOOL in their app and enter the EARTHDAY16 code will prompt the company to donate $1 each to the Arbor Day Foundation.
Rideshare and help the environment? Why not?