Today we’re likely to see a battle in the Arizona Legislature over a special set of loopholes meant to exempt billion-dollar ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft from the insurance standards and modest regulations that their competitors in the taxi and limo world face every day.

In short, if Uber and Lyft and their lobbyists get their way with HB 2262, the ride shares will not have to carry the same $300,000 primary commercial insurance policy on each vehicle that taxis and limos must carry by law. Additionally, Uber and Lyft will be able to “self-regulate” when it comes to drug tests and background checks for drivers — unlike like taxi and limo companies, who are overseen by the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures.

By the way, that’s also a lesser standard than the one faced by “party bikes.” You know … those contraptions you see pedaling around downtown Scottsdale taking partygoers from bar to bar. Here’s a picture, so you know what we’re talking about.

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Last week, the Legislature passed SB1201, a bill regulating these party bikes as “motorized quadricycles” and lumping them together with taxis and limos for the purposes of regulation. That means party bike operators will need to carry at least $300,000 worth of primary commercial insurance on each vehicle and have drug testing and background checks of their drivers overseen by Weights and Measures. Also included in the bill was a regulation limiting the party bikes to operating at speeds of 15 mph — and keeping them off any “highway that has a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.”

Among the legislators voting “yes” on this bill? State Sen. Kelli Ward, who is leading the charge to create loopholes for Uber and Lyft. To recap the logic here: Party bikes which can’t go faster than 15 mph and can’t operate on freeways need at least $300,000 in primary commercial insurance on each vehicle. The state will over see drug-testing and background checks for their drivers.
Uber and Lyft, meanwhile, — actual motor vehicles that drive on actual freeways — will be allowed to have $0 in primary commercial insurance on each vehicle, instead carrying only a contingency policy that may cover accidents and injuries, depending on the whim of the insurance company or on a long, expensive lawsuit. As for drug testing and background checks, there will be no government oversight for Uber and Lyft, meaning we’ll just have to trust them.
Apparently, the party bike industry needs better lobbyists … or billions of dollars in venture capital to attract more elected friends. Because nothing else explains this ridiculous standard.

For more information or for interviews from those who want a level playing field for all modes of transportation, shoot me an email or give me a call at 602-317-1414.