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Uber Taps Users in Fight Against California Anti-Ridesharing Bill

Mike Hower
| Friday August 22nd, 2014 | 6 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 2.43.46 PMUber and Lyft’s bitter battle for ridesharing supremacy has long been overshadowed by the political battle for ridesharing legitimacy. Taxi companies have led the charge against ridesharing, arguing that services such as Uber and Lyft do not have the oversight of local regulatory bodies while unfairly competing with existing locally-regulated taxi services.

Despite heavy lobbying by taxicab drivers associations and other groups, ridesharing won a decisive victory in September 2013 when the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) decided to establish a new business category called a Transportation Network Company (TNC) to describe companies such as Uber and Lyft. In creating this new category, along with a series of rules and regulations, CPUC effectively legitimized Lyft and Uber in the country’s most populous state.

Uber recently stepped up its public affairs game by directly encouraging its users to lobby the California legislature to vote against AB 2293, which could kill ridesharing altogether. In an email to users, Uber wrote:

Who would have thought California, the cradle for American innovation, would take the lead in killing it. Governor Brown is committed to leading California into the future, but some in the legislature are anonymously doing the bidding of trial lawyers, big taxi and insurance lobbyists. Their bill, AB 2293, will be voted on THIS WEEK and would kill ridesharing in the Golden State.

If you want to keep uberX in California, now is the time to act. You are voting with your wallets every day – choosing Uber for a safe, reliable ride. Call your senators and tell them to stand up for Uber, your transportation options and the state’s future – not special interests.#CAlovesUber

Uber users responded in force online, taking to Twitter and other social media outlets to express their support for the company — and ridesharing overall.

Earlier this week, a contingent of Uber drivers pulled up to the state capitol and delivered more than 17,000 signatures to the bill’s prime proponent, Susan Bonilla (D) of the 14th District. The assemblywoman maintains her bill is meant only to protect consumers.

Uber doubled down on its quest to be the leader in ridesharing public policy by announcing that it had hired the political strategist David Plouffe to be its senior vice president of policy and strategy. Plouffe, who ran President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, said he planned to run Uber’s communication efforts much like a political race, pushing to win over both consumers and regulators as the company expands worldwide.

While Uber seems content to go it alone, it seems Uber and Lyft, along with other ridesharing companies such as Sidecar, would benefit from pooling resources to take on regulators that would like nothing but to see them all destroyed. For now, the companies have been left to use their own resources to fight individual battles in various markets nationwide. Though it seems unlikely that Uber and Lyft will ever partner in such a way, perhaps a third-party ridesharing lobby could arise to fight for the burgeoning industry in statehouses across the country, as well as on Capitol Hill.

Image credit: Flickr Photo Cindy

Based in Washington, D.C., Mike Hower is a writer, thinker and strategic communicator that revels in driving the conversation at the intersection of sustainable business and policy. He has cultivated diverse experience working for the United States Congress in Washington, D.C., helping Silicon Valley startups with strategic communications and teaching in South America. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter (@mikehower)


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  • http://Facebook.com/justus.aguy Just Aguy

    The Ride-sharing business model is based on regulatory arbitrage, dubious insurance practices, and exploitation of drivers they’ve lured into signing-up by making fraudulent claims of potential earnings. The drivers have woken up to this reality and are uniting to raise awareness of their woes and bring an end to their exploitation. Visit http://www.UberPeople.net to learn more about the true state of ride-sharing.

  • Rob

    So called ride-“sharing” is nothing else but a public transportation privatization scheme.
    One where no municipal payments are made, no local taxes are paid and profits end up offshore. Running under the cover of a network of foreign limited-liability corporations,
    and under the pretense of “technology”, ride-sharing multibillion dollar oligarchs want no oversight and no regulation.

  • Zamir

    To The people they are happy with uber I run a small taxi company in San Diego every year I have to come up with $7-$8000 for taxi because that’s that law says on the other hand at Uber doesn’t have to pay a penny doesn’t matter if you have a criminal record doesn’t matter if you have a DUI doesn’t matter if you kill people you still can drive for Uber I have no problem competing with anybody long as it’s a fair for people that love uber I would love to open a business right next to yours compete with you the same way that uber is competing with us it’s very sad that we have these corrupt politicians that think otherwise

    • shane.

      You are a retard. Taxis suck and are way overpriced. Just because you want more money doesnt mean you are guaranteed a return on your investment. You are only guaranteed the right to ask for more money. If a competing company beats your horrendous business model that’s your problem.

      • Zamir

        No I’m not a retard I am a hard-working person but you sound like one and I think you forgot to take your medicine if you cannot afford them go get it through Obamacare they’re pretty cheap

  • Just an Uber user

    Uber is awesome and I’ll never take a taxi again. I have had enough bad experience with smelly rude cab drivers that don’t speak a lick of English.
    I have 8749 people in my Instagram, Facebook, and twitter that use Uber religiously and some of them have thousands of followers and friends using Uber every day.
    We are actively requesting everyone to keep using Uber.
    Talk about fair, all Taxi companies care about is the antiquated monopoly that works the taxi drivers to death.
    Why don’t you go online and type in the keyword “Taxi Complaints ” and see results.
    Enough said!