St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann lent his support, on Jan. 10, to a state bill that would regulate new means of personal transportation such as Uber and Lyft.
Ehlmann testified in support of House Bill 130, which on Jan. 12 was reported as “do pass” in the House General Laws Committee. The bill would establish a statewide regulatory system for Transportation Network Companies [TNCs] such as Uber and Lyft.
In a news release, Ehlmann said Uber and Lyft are a significant new transportation option for employees, residents and visitors in the county. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Kirk Matthews [R-Pacific]. Its companion bill in the Senate [SB185] is sponsored by state Sen. Bob Onder [R-Lake Saint Louis].
Ehlmann said that a number of county businesses and residents have told him that they want this service available.
TNCs, such as Uber and Lyft, are accessible through an app on smart phones or the web. Customers call for a ride then are picked up by a certified driver. TNC drivers provide transportation in their own, non-commercial vehicles.
Under the bill, TNCs must disclose the fare or fare structure on their websites or digital networks, provide riders the applicable rates being charged and the option to receive an estimated fare. The TNC’s digital network must display a picture of the TNC driver, the license plate number of the vehicle and a detailed electronic receipt to the rider.
TNCs also must adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward drivers using intoxicating substances, enforce driver eligibility requirements, including background checks and registration, adopt nondiscrimination policies with respect to riders and maintain individual trip records of riders and drivers.
TNCs are not restricted in unincorporated St. Charles County or in any other county municipality, except the city of St. Charles, where they are prohibited. However, Uber is not operating in St. Charles County and someone desiring to hail an Uber ride anywhere in the county will not be serviced.
If the bill fails to pass at the state level, Ehlmann and County Councilmember Mike Elam [District 3] are interested in taking steps to move forward at the county level.
“We should be a leading force in the state for embracing technology in all phases and giving our citizens more transportation options for moving around the region,” said Elam. “Uber and other like services will make life easier and help our county grow.”
However, Ehlmann said, “It remains preferable that the state regulate an industry that constantly crosses city and county boundaries.”
Bills in prior years have failed to come to a vote in either chamber of the state legislature.