New regulations covering ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber are now official. The rules will classify the taxi-like services as “passenger vehicles for-hire,” a category that already included limos and shuttles.
Adding ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber means drivers will have to apply for an annual permit, pass background checks and be subject to random inspections.
Matt Ratliff was one of about a dozen Lyft drivers who came to the meeting. He said Lyft was already vetting its drivers and its cars and requiring personal insurance — basically doing much of what the city now wants.
“We were already in compliance with a lot of these regulations, anyway,” Ratliff, a 38 year-old mortgage broker who also draws income from being a Lyft driver. “But now the city can feel confident in something we already knew.”
Companies like Lyft and Uber have been operating in Nashville technically illegally for more than a year. Officials even said some citations were issued.
The new rules bring the companies into compliance with city law.
One point of dispute concerns the minimum fare that kicks in when taking a non-taxi vehicle in the city. The price floor used to be $45. But the Council changed that rule earlier this year, dropping it to $9 — roughly three times the minimum rate required of taxicabs. Under the law that passed on Tuesday, the city’s taxi and licensing commission will set the minimum fares, subject to council approval. The commission will hold its annual meeting in January.
A Lyft spokesperson gave warm remarks about the law’s passage after the vote, but if the commission decides to set a minimum fare that the company views as excessive, some observers say a dispute could crop up.