Lyft and Uber drivers now required to carry business license in San Francisco

By Shawn Knight · 17 replies
Apr 16, 2016
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  1. Lyft and Uber drivers in San Francisco that work at least seven or more days a year must now obtain a business license to come into compliance with city regulations.

    As the San Francisco Chronicle correctly points out, Lyft and Uber drivers have been operating in the city for years. Why drivers are just now being asked to obtain a business license isn’t entirely clear. City Treasurer Jose Cisneros did tell the publication, however, that one reason for the change has to do with the fact that the city launched its online business registration system just last month.

    Prior to March, those interested in registering for a business license had to do so in person at City Hall.

    Another likely reason the treasurer is just now taking action is the fact that he now has a list of Lyft and Uber drivers. When questioned on the matter, Cisneros would not say how he came into possession of the list which is comprised of 37,018 drivers. Both Lyft and Uber have long refused to provide the data to the city.

    A business license in San Francisco is priced at $91 per year for those that collect less than $100,000 a year in fares. Assuming that every driver paid for a business license this year, the city would receive more than $3.37 million in revenue.

    What’s more, drivers that met the criteria for needing a business license in previous years must back pay those fees, too.

    Cisneros is in the process of mailing out letters to those he has identified as drivers for the two ride-hailing services. Recipients have 30 days to obtain a license; failure to do so may result in penalties and payment obligations, the letter states.

    Permalink to story.

  2. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    "Why drivers are just now being asked to obtain a business license isn’t entirely clear."

    It's crystal clear.

    This is a play by the taxi companies. They can't beat Uber or Lyft directly in court, so they are going after the drivers.

    First, you require the drivers to get business licesnes. Then, you reclassify them as small business operators (after all, if they weren't operaitng a business, why would they need a business license?). Then, you subject them to small business regulations (which may or may not reclassify them as individual taxi operators). Then, if you're a taxi company, you count your revenue as Uber & Lyft drivers mysteriously disappear and people are forced back into traditional taxis.
  3. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,320   +1,412

    Yeah, you can tell the taxi companies are heavily lobbying San Fran
  4. umbala

    umbala TS Maniac Posts: 197   +176

    I cannot believe that city after city is allowing taxi unions to get their way. I guess when enough money is involved you can get politicians to do just about anything. If history has taught us anything it's that you may be able to slow down progress, but you cannot stop it.
  5. HemiHalo

    HemiHalo TS Rookie

    Can't compete? Use government to suppress the competition!
    MilwaukeeMike likes this.
  6. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    Well, to be fair... you can't have taxi drivers and uber drivers playing by different rules. That doesn't mean I think they should tax Uber drivers, if anything they should relax on the Taxi Drivers so they don't have to deal with extra regulation that the Uber drivers don't.

    But then there's this....
    There's no way the City is going to reduce any sort of rules when they can collect a ton of money and use that money to pay the people to make sure everyone follows the rules. It's how you grow your govt and they'll tell you it's serving some sort of purpose.

    They can't... it really isn't fair when you can have as many Uber drivers as want to drive, but taxi drivers are limited to a specific number the city has set. The cities have made it impossible for the taxis to compete. AND the taxis have to pay a ton for a license, while Uber drivers don't. Taxi licenses are over $100,000 easily on the secondary market.

    What they should do is take away some regulations and make the taxi drivers adapt. We didn't protect the makers of type-writers when computers came along, and you can sure bet Exxon Mobile isn't going to get anything when they complain about electric cars. Taxi companies should go make an App that is exactly like Ubers... many have - in Milwaukee it's called TaxiMKE. :)
  7. HemiHalo

    HemiHalo TS Rookie

    Yeah, taxi companies used those stupid licenses and medallions to create artificially high barriers to entry and scarcity. Now they don't like it. Eliminating regulations and ending protectionist policy is the solution. But since those in government have little motivation to not favor some group over another, I'm not getting my hopes up.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    This isn't a very good argument. The simple fact is that Uber and taxi cabs are not the same business. This is why they are going to go after the drivers. You simply cannot argue rationally that Uber is a taxi operator because it isn't. However, the case can be made (incorrectly) that the drivers are taxi operators.

    The real problem–and what is really unfair–is that the taxi business is dying as a result of technological innovation and the force of the government is being used as life support to keep it breathing at the expense of superior services and the people they benefit.
    wastedkill and HemiHalo like this.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,012   +2,536

    I hate to burst everyone's bubble but, everyone else who runs a business in that city is likely required to have a license as well.

    So, skip all the BS about the taxi companies. I you take money often enough for a product or service, whether it be homemade cupcakes or ride share, you're running a business. Get over it.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,701

    That would certainly help some people, but I don't see it as a fix all to this deli-ma.
  11. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    This logic made headlines a while back. Maybe someone can dig the story up. But there was some big circus that erupted over some kid running a lemonade stand because of licensing/zoning or some such nonsense, premised on this reasoning.

    Providing a good or service =/= running a business.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,012   +2,536

    Well, this only gives more credence to what I suggested.

    If a lemonade stand can be classed, licensed, and regulated as a business, then tooling around the city in a 4,000 pound motor vehicle certainly should be as well.
  13. Lets not just focus on "the business model" and forget that the reason barriers exist is for the protection of those using the service.
    If a person uses the service what kind of protection is in place should there be an accident and medical bills need to be covered?

    The little girl with the lemonade stand doesn't have coverage, does that mean these drivers don't have coverage either. So does this mean that if someone ends up in a hospital, there is no coverage?

    For Taxi's, this is regulated and proof of coverage is maintained by the state. If Uber & Lyft are not subject to the same rules and regulation, does that also mean no one verifies to make sure proper coverage is in place for each driver?
  14. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    This is also a weak argument.

    Barriers exist, in principle, to protect people from negligence and malice. In practice, they exist to stifle competition and advance political agendas.

    Insofar as Uber and Lyft are concerned, those services are already run with sizable insurance policies. There have already been accidents involving their drivers and each case was covered by the contracting company's insurance policy.
    wastedkill likes this.
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,701

    Do they normally have personal injury coverage?
  16. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    Well, of course they're in the same business or we wouldn't be having this discussion. They both offer individual, on-call transportation. The only real difference is that taxi drivers don't their own cars and work for a company. I'm not trying to argue that Uber drivers are taxi drivers, because they're not... but they're in the same business - they deliver the exact same service.

    And you're right... the taxi business is evaporating because of Uber. Buy why does the govt care? Technology changes business all the time (next will be order kiosks at McDonalds to replace a $15/hr high school student). But why does the govt care about taxi drivers so much? Is it because the taxi business is so highly regulated and the govt doesn't want to lose control of an industry? That'd be my guess... they don't like it when the private sector does something they can't control.
  17. davislane1, I didn't know that the states where now keeping track of coverage. Last time people got injured, they had to go through the court system and even then the Uber didn't disclose the settlement.

    I personally have nothing against Lyft/Uber as long as proper protections exist for the users.
  18. For commercial, there really is medical coverage (and in some states personal injury as well); but that doesn't matter since injuries would be covered under Liability anyway.

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