Ride-sharing services such as Uber have grown rapidly across the country in recent years. Last year, Uber's first service in Iowa was launched in Des Moines, and has quickly become very popular in our community. Ride-sharing companies are different from traditional taxi services in several ways. Instead of hailing a cab on the side of the road or by phone, you summon a private driver in his or her own vehicle through the app on your phone. Drivers are only paid electronically through the app, with no cash ever being exchanged. In many cases, ride-sharing services are less expensive and faster than other options.
This year I have been working on House File 394, a bill to create a statewide set of uniform rules that regulate transportation network companies, drivers and passengers. Without one common set of rules, individual jurisdictions might choose all kinds of different rules for operation, some of which may be too onerous for these businesses to continue operations altogether. For example, it makes no good sense for West Des Moines to have one rule on vehicle identification, with another different rule in Des Moines.
House File 394 will incentivize the growth of the ride-sharing industry by making it easier for these companies to begin service and expand operations without the fear of potential new regulations from individual cities. Uber has already decided against planned operations in Iowa City after a set of overly burdensome regulations were enacted by their city council.
One of the most difficult pieces of the bill to put together was a section on the insurance requirements for ride-sharing companies and drivers. In the end, we established a set of clear requirements that provide a full spectrum of insurance coverage for all parties. We have made sure that there are no gaps in coverage, and that recovery will be possible in potential accident.
Thanks to its ever-growing popularity, Uber has a strong grassroots support network of loyal customers that have been pushing for the passage of this legislation. Their voices were heard this past Tuesday when the House passed House File 394 with overwhelming bi-partisan support on a vote of 95-5. The bill now moves to the Senate where it is already making its way through the committee process.