Marc Scribner is a transportation expert at the Washington, D.C-based Competitive Enterprise Institute. He says the problem lies with Virginia’s laws — laws that didn’t change because the governor and attorney general tried to protect Uber and Lyft as companies.
“That temporary operating agreement that Virginia made with Uber and Lyft, what that did was basically shoe-horned them into an existing regulatory class called the transportation broker.”
But it didn’t necessarily protect drivers for Uber and Lyft, said Scribner, who has scrutinized Virginia’s state regulations and Virginia Beach’s local regulations. They could still be defined as taxicab drivers, and state law still gives localities leeway on respective regulations.
“If you’re taking money to drive someone in your car somewhere, the definition of taxicab is broad enough that you fall under the taxicab category,” Scribner said.
Scribner said regulations like Virginia Beach’s discourage entrepreneurs and market competitiveness, even though the city’s interpretation of the law is feasible.
“They are interpreting it I think in a way, I wouldn’t say isn’t unreasonable,” Scribner said. “The problem is the law. Now, we hope localities would exercise restraint and see the competitive benefits of these types of services, but they don’t have to.”
It’s up to the lawmakers to fix this, Scribner said.
“Politicians aren’t going to feel comfortable doing this and not many will do this, but I think they need to take a serious look at getting rid of these current laws and regulations governing transportation services because these laws and regulations are there to protect market incumbents and protect them from competition,” Scribner said.