On April 25, I received an email from Team Uber California telling me the fate of ridesharing was in my hands. It was up to me to vote NO on AB 24. Two days after that I received another email from Team Uber Massachusetts. This time around, the email was telling to me vote YES on Governor Charlie Baker’s new bill.
I did my research and found that both bills basically say the same thing. They want ridesharing companies, like Uber, to submit to tougher background checks, regular drug tests, and have their cars marked to display their companies.
So why does Uber in one state want me to vote NO and Uber in another state want me to vote YES?
Uber is one of fastest growing growing companies worldwide with an estimated value of $40 billion. But as its worth grows, so do its problems. In New Delhi, an Uber driver was accused of raping his passenger. In France, the Uber team came under heavy fire for its promotion to pair up riders with “hot chicks,” and in Spain, Thailand, and the Netherlands, the service has been banned altogether.
Meanwhile, on the homefront, Uber isn’t doing much better with controversy. There have been reports of Uber drivers stalking their passengers and even Uber executives stalking their VIP customers for giggles.
All across the U.S., states are trying to deal with the aftermath of the sudden explosion of ridesharing. Safety is one of their main concerns. California and Massachusetts are two states looking to crackdown on ridesharing companies.
Assembly Bill 24 of California calls for all ridesharing companies to register their cars as ridesharing vehicles with the California Public Utilities Commision, mark the cars as such, perform random drug and alcohol tests and similar fingerprint background checks used for taxi and limo drivers for their own drivers.
“Rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, that claim to be focused on consumer safety, should welcome and embrace the opportunity to show consumers how safe and friendly their drivers can be,” Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement.
By the email I received, however, it’s obvious Uber Team California doesn’t see it that way. The team calls AB 24 “backward-looking” and blatantly “anti-ridesharing”–all this while failing to tell its customers what AB 24 even says. Lack of transparency is another one of Uber’s cited faults.
But while Uber in California is fighting with its legislators (even it’s hometown of San Francisco is suing the company for lack of safety), Uber in Massachusetts is openly accepting tougher regulations.
The Massachusetts bill calls for all ridesharing companies to submit their drivers to both a background check conducted by the state and one by the company itself. Uber would have to regularly send a roster of their drivers, along with their addresses, to law enforcement. Ridesharing companies would also be the ones shouldering the costs of their very own oversight through annual taxes.
And the Uber team in Massachusetts is okay with all of this. In their email to customers, they write, “we need your help to make sure this bill gets passed in state legislature” and then promptly summarize the components of the bill. It’s a complete 180 from Team Uber California.
Regardless of where they truly stand on ridesharing safety, it’s obvious that Team Uber needs to start implementing across-the-board company regulations. If Uber in one state cannot even agree with Uber in another state, what does that say about Uber administration overall? It’s a mess.
Uber might be worth $40 billion today, but if it continues to confuse its passengers and legislators, it won’t be for much longer. Competitors such as Lyft, who are more cohesive with company branding, provide a quick and easy alternative with the tap of a finger.
But from here, we’ll just have to wait and see if Uber decides to finally make up its mind on rider safety.