Baker will sign Uber, Lyft legislation
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Governor Charlie Baker on Friday will sign landmark legislation regulating ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, mandating driver background checks, allowing pickups from Boston's main convention center and airport, and bringing Massachusetts in line with the 34 other states that have passed comprehensive oversight for the booming new industry.
Baker's office announced he will sign the bill, enacted earlier this week by the Legislature, at a Friday afternoon ceremony.
The move was praised by both the ride-hailing industry and taxi owners. A Lyft spokesman said, "We applaud Governor Baker for signing this common-sense legislation, which sets high safety standards while supporting consumer choice and innovation."
Chris Taylor, Uber Boston general manager, said: "We are grateful for Governor Baker's support and the legislature's effort towards creating a framework that embraces an innovative industry that has changed the way the Commonwealth moves. We look forward to working with the Administration to implement the law to ensure it increases transportation options and economic growth."
And Scott Solombrino, a spokesman for Ride Safe Massachusetts, a coalition of taxi and livery car owners, called Baker's move "fantastic news."
He said the framework "sets some very rigorous standards for public safety. I'm disappointed it doesn't include fingerprinting, but I think it's positive for consumers — it's a good piece of legislation."
Besides regulating the industry, from insurance requirements to toll rates, the law will impose a 20-cent per-ride fee on the companies, which they are forbidden from passing along to riders or drivers.
That extra money will be split among cities and towns, the state, and a fund to "provide financial assistance to small businesses operating in the taxicab, livery, or hackney industries." After about a decade, the fee is supposed to expire.
Uber, Lyft, and similar companies provide a smartphone app through which riders can hail a car, often a driver's own private vehicle, and automatically pay for the journey through a credit card or debit card on file. Popular low-cost services UberX and Lyft Line are often less expensive than a cab going a similar distance. Fares are calculated through the app, rather than on a meter.
There are more than two million Uber rides and more than 500,000 Lyft rides per month in Massachusetts, according to the companies.