California’s efforts to regulate innovative taxi-disrupting companies Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are getting more and more creative. The latest offensive targets the companies’ background-checking policies, as the Wall Street Journal reports:
The district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles on Thursday accused Sidecar Inc. of violating California business law and threatened an injunction on its service following a joint investigation, according to a letter sent to Sidecar and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.Similar letters were also hand-delivered to Sidecar’s larger rivals in San Francisco, Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., according to a spokeswoman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office. […]George Gascón, the district attorney of San Francisco, and Jackie Lacey, his counterpart in Los Angeles, allege that Sidecar is misleading customers about how thoroughly it checks the criminal backgrounds and driving records of its drivers.The regulators are also asking Sidecar to end its car-pooling feature, launched earlier this year, which allows passengers to share rides with strangers for cheaper rides. That service violates a section of the public-utilities code which prohibits transportation providers charging multiple people for the same ride.
Every manner of legislative roadblock has been thrown at these scrappy companies by authorities working to preserve the taxi cartels in their cities. And one by one, these roadblocks have been knocked down, in large part because the ride-sharing services are improving on the shoddy service offered by those very same hidebound cartels. Voters notice the dynamic and have so far been able to bring their local legislators to heel.As fans and regular customers of Uber and Lyft in both New York City and Washington DC, we hope the happy ending repeats itself on the West Coast. Innovation in the logistics and transportation sector is both a welcome development for consumers and ultimately good for the environment. More please, not less.