Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are all the rage these days among the young and tech-savvy. By utilizing smartphone apps to connect riders and drivers, they tap into the American entrepreneurial spirit and, by the accounts of many, make getting around town much easier and a lot more fun.
Not all institutions share the collective enthusiasm, however. Over the past several months, Watchdog.org reporters have covered multiple instances where Uber and Lyft have encountered regulatory headwinds or been outright banned by state and local governments. New Mexico Watchdog reporter Rob Nikolewski and Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau’s Kathryn Watson have gone particularly in-depth on this issue in their states.
In New Mexico, Nikolewski has covered the current standoff between ride-sharers and the state’s Public Regulation Commission (PRC). In June the PRC voted 3-2 to deny a request from Uber for a certificate to provide “specialized passenger service” and allow them to operate. But the ride sharing companies continued to give rides in defiance of regulators and despite the PRC filing a cease and desist order on Lyft in May.
Two weeks later, the PRC directed its staff to craft a proposal that would allow companies like Lyft and Uber to operate in the state. Nikolewski thinks there’s a good chance the commission will approve new regulations allowing ride-sharing, but we won’t know, of course, until the final vote.
In Virginia, the state’s DMV has ordered ride-share companies to stop operating in the state. Yet just as in New Mexico, they have continued to do so.
“Taxicab companies have the institutional monopoly on their side,” Watson wrote, “but Uber and Lyft have social media and consumer support on theirs.”