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Legislative Action Alert, April 24, 2018. The House is taking up a bill that looks to move Vermont towards a uniform regulation of all vehicle-for-hire companies and drivers. Several towns and cities currently regulate taxi or “jitney” businesses pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2031. The bill, H.143, would prevent municipalities from adopting any ordinance, resolution, or bylaw that regulates transportation network companies that is inconsistent with the requirements of the bill. Presumably, local ordinances, regulations, and bylaws, both whole and in part that are consistent with or are not addressed by the bill can remain in effect.

The bill defines a “transportation network company” as a person that uses a digital network to connect riders to drivers who provide prearranged rides. A “transportation network company driver” means a person who uses a personal vehicle to provide rides via a transportation network company. Any municipal law that regulates such a network or a driver that is inconsistent with the following will not be enforceable under H.143:

  • Automobile insurance. The bill sets liability insurance amounts for drivers logged on to a transportation network company’s digital network and is available to receive transportation requests but is not engages in a prearranged ride. Liability insurances amounts are set higher while a driver is engaged in a prearranged ride.
  • Background checks. The bill requires transportation network companies to perform background checks on all individuals who submit an application to the company who want to become drivers. Background check must be performed annually.
  • Drivers must pass a background check, be at least 18 years of age, and show proof of registration, insurance, and of state vehicle inspection.
  • Companies cannot allow drivers on their network who have been convicted of certain offenses, crimes and felonies such as drug trafficking, driving under the influence, and gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle, among others.

Any municipality that has an ordinance, regulation, or bylaw that conflicts with or is inconsistent with these standards and criteria should review those laws to ensure it is in compliance. Any municipality that believes the bill will constrain its ability to regulate lift-share companies or has concerns with the bill’s impact should contact their representatives. To contact your legislators, find their email on the legislative website, http://legislature.vermont.gov, or call the Sergeant at Arms at 802-828-2228 to leave a message.

A link to the draft bill is here.

If you have any questions about the bill, please contact Gwynn Zakov at gzakov@vlct.org. And please copy Gwynn on any correspondence to your legislators.