Legislation Sets Safety Standards, Consumer Protections for Transportation Network Companies
Legislation (S-2179) sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo and Senator Joseph Kyrillos that will establish statewide standards for the burgeoning ride-sharing business, or transportation network companies, such as Uber, Lyft and Gett in order to provide safety standards and consumer protections was approved by the Senate today with a vote of 29-5.
TNCs are companies that use a digital network to connect drivers and riders.
“We worked with Uber and Lyft and law enforcement officials to create a statewide standard for ensuring the safety and protection of passengers, while maintaining the flexibility that has helped these ridesharing services to become so popular,” said Kyrillos. “Our efforts today will ensure continued economic opportunities for drivers and safe affordable rides for people across the state.”
— Senator Joe Kyrillos (@joekyrillos) December 20, 2016
“The rapid growth in the use of ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft has created concerns about safety regulations and some confusion about who is responsible for setting and enforcing standards to protect consumers and safeguard customers,” said Senator Sarlo. “This is a new business model that requires a new set of protections that promote safety and provide uniform, statewide standards for the companies, their drivers and the passengers.”
An estimated 20,000 drivers in New Jersey have already been active in working for Uber and Lyft alone, and the number of participants continues to grow, Senator Sarlo and Kyrillos said.
Part of the statewide standards will be criminal background checks of the drivers within three years, prohibiting those with serious offenses from being licensed. They would also be disqualified if they have more than three moving violations, a suspended or revoked license, and a DUI or reckless driving offense, among other violations.
The statewide regulatory standards would preempt those done at the local level by municipalities or counties.
The legislation, entitled the Transportation Network Company Safety and Regulatory Act, will authorize both the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and the Division of Consumer Affairs to inspect company records to ensure compliance with the law. The bill was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
The bill would require the approval by the Attorney General of the method of background checks by the companies within six months. If the AG does not approve, the State Police would perform the checks, according to the bill.
The legislation would also:
- Prohibit a TNC or a driver from providing taxi, limousine, or other for-hire vehicle service. A driver would not be permitted to solicit or accept any ride that is not arranged through a company’s digital network;
- Require a TNC to obtain a permit from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission upon payment of an annual $25,000 fee;
- Require that the applicant’s personal vehicle to be used to provide arranged rides meets the state’s inspection requirements for passenger automobiles;
- Require a TNC, a driver, or a combination of the two to maintain primary automobile liability insurance; provide that the motorist’s coverage for uninsured/under insured coverage would be no less than $1.5 million;
- Require a TNC to provide riders, on its website or digital network, the fare or method by which the TNC calculates fares;
- Require a TNC to implement a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy while a driver is logged on to the TNC’s digital network or is providing rides through the network;
- Require a TNC to implement a non-discrimination policy against riders or potential riders on the basis of destination, race, color, national origin, religious belief or affiliation, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.