Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh is introducing legislation today that would legalize and regulate UberX and similar ride-share companies in the District—-an outcome that, much to the chagrin of city cabs, has been long in the making. Emergency legislation allowing services like UberX and Lyft has been expired for months, so these companies have been operating in what has been referred to as a “legal limbo.”

The legislation would require a private-vehicle-for-hire company like UberX to have primary automobile liability insurance of at least $1 million each time a passenger is inside a vehicle, as well as while a vehicle is en route to pick up a passenger that requested it. When the vehicle is on duty but has yet to be dispatched, it must have an insurance policy in place that provides minimum coverage of at least $50,000 per person, with up to $100,000 available to all people involved in a collision.

The proposed legislation says that UberX driver applicants must be screened by an independent background-check company and would be disqualified if they have been convicted of a violent crime or a sexual offense. Applicants who have been convicted of a felony fraud or identity theft would also be disqualified. Applicants are not required to be fingerprinted, something that D.C. cab driver applicants must do.

WUSA9 reports that Uber is satisfied with the proposed legislation, saying the required insurance policies are similar to what they already have. The District’s cabs, however, says the legislation does not do enough to make it an even playing field for them. UberX prices are cheaper than cabs’, and the D.C. Taxicab Commission regulates the cab fare rates. But, under this new legislation, cabs that are hailed through an electronic service, can set different rates than the standard metered rates.

An organization representing the cab drivers told WUSA9 that the legislation should, but doesn’t, limit the number of potential UberX or Lyft drivers. DCTC. Ron Linton similarly said he does not think the proposal does enough to protect consumers.

Cheh will introduce the legislation at hearing today a 2:30 p.m.

Read her draft of the proposed legislation below:


Photo by Darrow Montgomery