Amid growing concerns about the regulation of Uber and Lyft drivers, a Los Angeles City Council committee moved forward Wednesday on exploring ways to more closely monitor drivers at the local level.
The Transportation Committee's move comes after three Los Angeles County women who said they were sexually assaulted by men who posed as Uber drivers filed a lawsuit last week against Uber Technologies, alleging the company didn't do enough to warn them.
Jarvis Murray of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, who is in charge of the For-Hire Regulation and Policy Department, said the growth of Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs, has been fast and difficult for the city government to keep up with.
"Their rapid rise -- and essentially unregulated rise - have led to increased congestion, as well as an increased concern related to crimes committed by TNC drivers, including sexual assault. Despite these issues, local jurisdictions have been unable to obtain any data related to TNC operations, drivers or even driver conduct," he said.
Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to a request to comment. No representatives from either company spoke at the meeting.
Murray said the state's Public Utilities Commission has the primary authority of regulating TNCs, and that although it has been working on the issue since 2012, has not finalized any.
Murray also said there is an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 TNC drivers in Los Angeles, and at Los Angeles International Airport, there were 8.9 million TNC trips in 2019.
Murray said there are a number of safety concerns around TNC drivers, including that there is nothing to stop a driver kicked off one platform from simply driving for another platform.
Councilman Mike Bonin, chair of the committee, said TNCs looked enticing a few years ago, but he now has many reservations about the companies and that "it's not clear if it's a net benefit to Los Angeles or our mobility objectives."
Bonin added that "the state has been MIA as a regulator."
The committee moved to pursue local tracking and regulation of drivers though multiple fronts, including having the LADOT report on options for sponsoring state regulations which would grant more local authority over TNCs.
It also moved to request the City Attorney's Office to report back with a legal analysis on the options for exercising legal authority, regulatory and fee setting authority of TNCs; for Los Angeles World Airports to develop a driver registration program for drivers who wish to travel to its property; and for the Office of Finance to report on the feasibility of expanding an existing business license requirements by TNC drivers by adding other regulatory requirements.