New legislation in Massachusetts, introduced by Governor Charlie Baker several months ago, is geared toward protecting riders’ personal information, collecting more trip data, and implementing stiffer penalties for drivers who neglect to maintain their vehicles or follow their rideshare company’s rules. The regulations are now being reviewed by the Joint Transportation Committee.
According to the director of transportation planning for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the lack of data on the impact of rideshare companies in all areas is a problem because it’s as if the companies don’t exist when looking at the current data. Having access to more information would help the state address a number of issues currently caused by the rideshare boom.
With the rideshare industry growing, there are concerns regarding rider safety and the effects on communities from increased traffic. The proposed regulations would give the state and local governments a better idea of where companies like Uber and Lyft are operating and what the contributions are to greenhouse gases. This would ensure Massachusetts is in compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act, which is a federal law the state adopted in 2008. It would also help identify if rideshare companies are contributing to congestion throughout the state’s urban areas.
In regard to protecting riders, the proposed penalties look specifically at drivers who do not keep up on inspections, criminal background checks, or identifying decals to inform others of their rideshare status. In addition to that, drivers who are caught renting out their rideshare account to someone else could face up to two and a half years behind bars.
Another proposal would allow cities and towns to charge an additional local transportation fee on top of the existing $0.20 per ride assessment. Lawmakers want to encourage commuters to share rides and use public transit. Not only would this cut down on the number of cars on the road, but it could bring the state’s ride-hailing fees in line with the rest of the country.
While proponents for the regulations stress rider safety and the importance of data collection, not everyone is on board. A spokesman from Lyft addressed the company’s concerns if the new regulations were to be made official. Speaking to 10Boston, Campbell Matthews said, “We share the governor’s commitment to safety and reducing congestion. However, we have significant concerns over the extent of information about our riders and drivers that this bill could require us to share with the Department of Public Utilities.”
While the proposed regulations could give the state a better idea of how the rideshare industry is impacting individuals, communities, and the state as a whole, they won’t help individuals who have already been injured as a result of a negligent rideshare driver. If you’re dealing with the ramifications of an Uber or Lyft crash that wasn’t your fault, we’re here to help. Contact us for more information.