Good news on the ridesharing front today, as at least two of the big three ridesharing/sedan hailing apps have been granted a pass by the California Public Utilities Commission to continue operating while they figure out just how to regulate these new services.
Last year, the PUC — which regulates cabs and limos in California — slapped Uber, Lyft and SideCar each with $20,000 fines and a cease-and-desist letter ordering them to halt operations and stop picking up taxi-weary passengers. Yesterday, the commission agreed to suspend the fines and stop order against pink mustache car service Lyft, and today the classier sedan service Uber followed suit with an announcement of their own. Emails to SideCar for comment weren't immediately returned, but we imagine their own announcement can't be far behind. [Note: See update below.]
The cease-and-desist orders came in early October of last year, followed by mild Internet outrage over a slow-moving government agency that didn't know what to do with a startup-y solution to San Francisco's taxi drought. In December, the PUC agreed to evaluate how to best regulate the services, which apparently includes not stopping them from safely getting San Franciscans where they need to go for a reasonable rate.
Here's the salient part of the agreement, which was identical for Uber and Zimride (Lyft's parent company), aside from the last sentence, which only applies to Uber:
The terms of the agreement are intended to ensure the public safety of both riders and drivers through the CPUC’s interim oversight of Uber during the rulemaking through safety requirements that include continued proof of insurance, Department of Motor Vehicle checks, and national criminal background checks. Some of these safety requirements are triggered when and if Uber decides to utilize non-licensed charter party carriers.
Now we can all go back to ignoring cab drivers, just like they've been ignoring us.
Update: While we have yet to hear back from SideCar, a spokesperson for the CPUC tells SFist that no agreement has been reached with SideCar yet. Bay City News also reports that the cease-and-desist still remains in effect for SideCar.