Governor Baker Signs Legislation Supporting Innovative Transportation Options
Includes strongest state background check system in the nation for Uber, Lyft drivers
BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker signed bipartisan legislation creating a modern statewide regulatory framework for transportation network companies (TNCs), prioritizing public safety and recognizing Massachusetts’ role as a leader in transportation innovation. The legislation, An Act regulating transportation network companies (H. 4570 includes support for transparent pricing, properly marked and inspected vehicles, clear insurance standards, authorization of service at Boston Logan International Airport and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), and the strongest state background check requirements in the nation.
“I am pleased to sign bipartisan legislation to ensure Massachusetts remains a leader for innovative new technologies, with safe and diverse transportation options and opportunities for hardworking individuals to earn a living, said Governor Charlie Baker. “This regulatory framework includes many of our own proposals to embrace disruptive technology and prioritize public safety to give consumers safe and reliable travel choices.”
Governor Baker first filed TNC legislation in April, 2015. The bill enacted today provides for the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to have regulatory authority over TNCs, establishes minimum disqualifying offenses for drivers, and requires companies to maintain active rosters of their drivers who must undergo a full state Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) background check, including sex offender registry status, and a bi-annual national commercial background check conducted by the TNC company. The legislation further closes existing insurance coverage gaps by setting adequate insurance liability and coverage requirements for TNCs and their drivers, including a guaranteed $1 million minimum coverage as soon as a TNC driver accepts a request for a ride.
“The strength of Massachusetts’ economy relies on the diversity of our transportation network and our acceptance of innovation to better serve everyone,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We appreciate the legislature’s collaboration with our administration, local officials, law enforcement, advocates and industry, to accept the important role these companies play in our economy and adopt a modern statewide regulatory structure that includes some of the strongest background check requirements in the nation.”
The legislation also establishes a ride for hire task force consisting of state transportation, regulatory and public safety officials, legislators, local officials, law enforcement, accessibility advocates, and industry representatives to actively review ride-for-hire regulations and make recommendations to ensure consumer protection, public safety and economic competitiveness.
“The Department of Public Utilities looks forward to implementing one of the most comprehensive ride-for-hire laws in the country,” said Department of Public Utilities Chairman Angela O’Connor. “The new division within the Department will support innovation and encourage the success of this cutting edge industry while ensuring a strong commitment to public safety.”
“Massachusetts is a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, and we want to foster an environment where great ideas and new technologies can flourish,” said Senate Ways and Means Chair, Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Transportation network companies use innovative technology to provide a useful and needed service, yet they currently operate without any oversight or accountability to ensure public safety and consumer protection. This new law takes decisive action to oversee and regulate these companies, while allowing them to continue to thrive and innovate here in Massachusetts.”
"With the signing of this bill into law, we in Massachusetts have created a framework for the TNC industry to continue to grow and thrive in the Commonwealth, while producing a bill that is second to none when it comes to public safety and consumer protections,” said Joint Committee on Financial Services Chair, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston). “It is my belief that other states who have not yet dealt with this issue will look to Massachusetts as the model as they undertake their own legislation with regard to TNCs. I want to thank the Governor, my colleagues in the House and in the Senate for their leadership on this issue."
The law provides for a gradual implementation of one year for the promulgation of regulations and compliance by companies and drivers in order to ensure no interruption in existing TNC services and an assessment of TNCs that covers structure and oversight costs. A twenty-cent per-ride assessment collected from TNCs, that by statute shall not be charged to a rider or driver and sunsets after ten years, will provide support for state and local infrastructure impacts and assistance with new technology and service improvements for small businesses operating in the taxi, livery or hackney industries through MassDevelopment.