Massachusetts lawmakers over the weekend passed a bill regulating transportation network companies, or ridesharing firms like Uber and Lyft, that includes requirements for background checks on drivers, vehicle safety inspections, insurance coverage, and a 20 cent per ride surcharge with the monies going to state and local governments.
Under the bill, the firms would be regulated by a division within the state’s public utilities department.
The bill, a compromise between different versions passed by the House and Senate, now goes to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker for his consideration.
Ridesharing firms would be required to provide “clear and conspicuous transportation fare estimates” to riders at all times, including during surge pricing, high volume and high demand times.
Drivers would only be allowed to pick up passengers though their digital app system and would be banned from cruising or street solicitations.
The bill creates a two-part driver background check system, one by the transportation network companies themselves that is then followed by a check by the state. Drivers would be screened every six months. Drivers must not appear on the National Sex Offender Registry; not had a conviction in the past seven years; and must not have more than four traffic violations or any major traffic violation in the preceding three-year period.
However, it stops short of requiring fingerprinting of drivers, which is required of taxi cab drivers.
Also under the bill drivers must be at least 21 years of age. They must comply with all insurance requirements and notify all insurers of their vehicle that they intend to use it to provide ridesharing services.
The legislation calls for formation of a task force with representatives from ridesharing, taxi, insurance and other interests to provide recommendations for additional laws and regulations by July 1, 2017.
Regarding insurance, the bill includes the following provisions:
- Any transportation network driver who is logged onto the transportation network company’s digital network and is available to receive transportation requests, but is not engaged in a pre-arranged ride shall have automobile liability insurance that provides per occurrence, per vehicle coverage amounting to at least $50,000 of coverage per individual for bodily injury, $100,000 of total coverage for bodily injury, $30,000 of coverage for property damage, uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection. The insurance may be held by the transportation network driver, the transportation network company or a combination thereof.
- When a transportation network driver is engaged in a pre-arranged ride, the driver shall have automobile liability insurance that provides at least $1,000,000 in per occurrence, per vehicle coverage for death, bodily injury and property damage, uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection to the extent required current state law. The insurance may be held by the transportation network driver, the transportation network company, or a combination thereof.
- Coverage under an automobile insurance policy maintained by the transportation network company shall not be dependent on a personal automobile insurer first denying a claim nor shall a personal automobile insurer be required to first deny a claim.
- Automobile insurers have the right to exclude any and all coverage afforded under a policy issued to an owner or operator of a vehicle for any loss or injury that occurs while a driver is providing transportation network services or while a driver provides a pre-arranged ride.
Ridesharing firms will be allowed to pick up passengers at Logan Airport under the bill.