A bill advanced at the statehouse today to regulate new app-based transportation companies.
Companies including Uber and Lyft use mobile apps for drivers to find fares and for passengers to arrange rides. The companies currently operate in Des Moines, Ames, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport.
Mount Auburn Republican Dawn Pettengill says the bill spells out insurance requirements for the benefit of both drivers and passengers.
“I think they will feel safer than what we have now,” Pettengill says.
Cab companies say they need a level playing field with the popular new ride services.
“We want to make sure our cab companies and others can be competitive with an unregulated industry,” said Scott Weiser with Trans Iowa which operates Yellow cabs.
Under the bill, companies or their drivers would need insurance coverage as soon as the driver logs on before a fare gets in.
The bill spells out how much insurance Uber must have, how the driver is responsible, and when the insurance requirement kicks in.
The amount would vary if the driver is looking for a fare or already has one lined up.
Backers say the ride services and insurance companies approve of the bill.
“It will be more transparent to the drivers, and passengers can be sure there’s adequate coverage,” Pettengill says.
A more wide-ranging bill failed last year that would have regulated background checks. That bill would have prevented cities from passing tougher rules than the states.
As a result, regulation remains up to the cities where the new services operate.