Illinois Senate moves to regulate ridesharing

The Illinois Senate Executive Committee passed two bills that would impose new regulations on ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

The hearing on HB4075 and HB 5331 lasted more than an hour and involved representatives of both ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft, as well as representatives of the Illinois Transportation Trade Association.

The bills place restrictions on any rideshare driver working more than 36 hours in a two-week period, including getting a municipal chauffeur’s license and complying with state and local regulations for taxi and livery services.

Ridesharing companies say the move will put a lot of their drivers out of business.

“In Chicago that would mean you can only engage in ridesharing for more than 18 hours if you have a vehicle that is less than four years old,” said Candice Taylor, manager of government relations at Lyft. “So for Lyft in particular, 63 percent of those driving more than 18 hours would be affected. That’s a lot of people in Chicago who depend on Lyft for economic opportunities, who right now are engaging in ridesharing, who have passed vehicle inspections and who are giving rides.”

Andrew Macdonald, regional general manager of Uber Technologies, added that the bill would cost the state $1.4 million annually to implement, reduce consumer choice and “protect a taxi monopoly that provides poor service and limited economic opportunity for thousands of drivers.”

Proponents of the bill argued that the regulations were a statewide public safety measure.

“The same way the state regulates in many different areas, like elevator inspections and fire safety, these two bills put in place normal statewide regulation and allow local government to regulate any area as long as such regulation is as strict or stricter,” said Mara Georges on behalf of the Illinois Transportation Trade Association.

One of the bills requires all drivers, regardless of how many hours they work, to have commercial liability insurance of at least $350,000.

Both Uber and Lyft representatives said they complied with that provision, supplying insurance worth as much as $1 million.

But some members of the committee made it clear their main concern was for the new companies that follow in the footsteps of Uber and Lyft, which might not be as scrupulous.

“I think we need a minimal level of safety, including background checks and insurance,” said state Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. “It’s not about just Uber and Lyft. Presumably because this is innovative and new, we are going to have a lot of companies coming up who may not be as responsible as Uber and Lyft. … I like the concept of this legislation to cover those situations that might pop up in cities that don’t regulate or have taxi services.”

Both bills passed the committee and will go out to the Senate floor, where Macdonald thought they still had a chance of failing.

“A number of the concerns raised with the bill today are echoed with individual members of the Senate,” he said. “We know that thousands and thousands of constituents have emailed their senators saying that they are disappointed in the bill. We think the will of the people will prevail, the will of drivers and riders.”