Capitol Alert

Carpooling by Uber, Lyft OK’d by California Assembly

Robert Callahan, California Executive Director of 'The Internet Association' speaks during a rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday, June 17, 2014.
Robert Callahan, California Executive Director of 'The Internet Association' speaks during a rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. rbenton@sacbee.com

Users of services like Uber and Lyft would be cleared to use the drive-for-pay services to carpool under a bill that cleared the California Assembly on Friday.

After the companies began rolling out a feature allowing multiple passengers to split their fares and be dropped off in different destinations, the California Public Utilities Commission said state law would need to be tweaked to allow the option. Assembly Bill 1360 responds to that directive, drawing support both from the companies and from a range of environmental groups. It passed 69-0.

“Passengers pay less, drivers make more, we have fewer rides and it’s better for the environment,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

The legislation reflects a broader trend of California government scrambling to adjust laws and regulations to handle a business model that resembles taxicabs but differs in that it relies on amateur drivers using their own cars.

For instance: a bill proceeding through the Legislature clarifies that those drivers don’t need commercial plates, correcting an advisory that appeared to threaten Uber and Lyft’s operations. A hard-fought bill last year upped insurance requirements, and legislation requiring drug and background testing of drivers has cleared two committees.

Jeremy B. White: (916) 326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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