Ride-share field has new player

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

The Rhode Island taxi and car service markets were already in upheaval when pink mustaches began appearing on the grills of sedans weaving through Providence, signaling another new competitor for local transportation dollars. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.



TRANSPORTATION

Ride-share field has new player

PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
NEED A LYFT? Cecilia Navarro is a Lyft driver working in Newport. The company is the latest ride-sharing service to launch in Providence in the past year with a mobile app linking passengers with drivers for hire.

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 4/21/14

The Rhode Island taxi and car service markets were already in upheaval when pink mustaches began appearing on the grills of sedans weaving through Providence, signaling another new competitor for local transportation dollars.

The mustachioed cars were utilizing Lyft, the latest ride-sharing service to launch in Providence in the past year with a mobile app linking passengers with drivers for hire.

Lyft’s arrival comes as state regulators, like many governments across the country, wrestle with how taxis, livery companies and Internet vehicle services should be regulated in an evolving marketplace.

At the end of this month, the R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Motor Carriers is scheduled to re-examine its most controversial recent car-service rule, a $40 minimum charge for all hired rides in commercial vehicles other than registered taxis.

Authorized by state lawmakers in 2012, the $40 minimum was designed to protect taxis – which are required to use meters, accept cash and operate around the clock and follow numerous other rules – from lightly regulated car services and “gypsy cabs” stealing fares.

As it happens, the $40 minimum would also undercut the Providence operation of ride-sharing service Uber, which launched in the city last summer unaware, according to the company, that per-ride charge was in the works.

After regulators approved the $40 rule last summer, four traditional (non-Internet) car-service companies challenged the new minimum in court, prompting the Division of Public Utilities to postpone enforcing it and now reconsider it.

Although it wasn’t a party in the original lawsuit, Uber is listed as a petitioner in the Division of Public Utilities hearing on the rule, which the company said would force it to leave the state if enforced.

The central question behind the $40 minimum ride is whether traditional taxi service is a public utility that needs to be closely regulated and protected from unregulated competitors.

It’s a question puzzling governments locally and globally that gets more complicated with each new startup bringing its own software platform and business model into the mix.

Lyft, for example, claims that even if the $40 minimum charge in Rhode Island is upheld, it won’t apply to the rides it facilitates, because the drivers involved are not professionals and the transaction informal, almost like car-pooling. The informal nature of the transactions are emphasized by Lyft passengers often riding in the front seat and, of course, the pink mustaches.

Next Page
Calendar
PBN Hosted
Events

Estate and Corporate Income Taxes are changing next year, and business owners and executives should know the details. The PBN Summit on November 6th will provide those details and more - including how much Obamacare's Employer Mandate could cost.
Advertisement
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  •  
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  •  
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
  •  
    National
    Local
    Latest News
    Advertisement