California has been on the forefront when it comes to the regulation of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). In California, the body that oversees TNCs is the state Public Utilities Commission, which orginally defined TNCs in 2013 as an, “online-enabled app or platform to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles”. Previously, companies like Uber and Lyft were categorized with limousines. Since this orginal designation, laws governing TNCs have adapted as the services have gained in popularity.
Update 2016: When the orginal rules (download Phase II decision) for TNCs were established in 2013, it was mandated that a second phase needed to occur to review the Commission’s regulations and ensure that they keep up with the growing industry. Phase II was approved on April 21, 2016 (download Phase II decision) and imposed new regulations including requiring TNC drivers to pass inspections at a California Bureau of Automotive Repair-licensed facility before beginning driving and again every 12 months or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Additionally, Phase II required TNCs to comply with additional data-sharing and training requirements. Phase II did not address whether fingerprinting would be required for drivers nor whether short-term rentals would be considered personal vehicles.
Update 2017: Effective January 1, 2017, Legislation (5445.2) passed that bars TNCs from hiring drivers with any violent felony convictions in their lifetime. Before this, background checks only went back seven years. Fines up to $5,000 will be imposed to TNCs for each time they are caught with a driver who has been convicted of a violent felony.
For additional information see an article in the San Francisco Examiner.
Updated April 2018