Thursday Midday News Roundup
CPUC Legalizes Ridesharing Companies With New Rules, Regulations
The California Public Utilities Commission today unanimously approved implementing regulations for online-enabled rideshare services -- making California the first state to legalize transportation options such as Lyft and Sidecar.
The five commissioners gave the go-ahead at a meeting this morning in San Francisco after hearing public comment that included taxi drivers who oppose the ridesharing companies and other people who support the nascent industry.
The commission decided to regulate companies like Lyft, UberX and Sidecar, defined as Transportation Network Companies, which use online platforms to connect passengers to drivers who are using their own vehicles.
As approved, the CPUC will require the companies to be licensed by the commission, perform background checks on drivers, implement or strengthen a driver-training program, conduct car inspections and carry a $1 million-per-incident insurance policy for drivers using their own vehicles to transport passengers.
A zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy will also be enforced among the total of 28 rules and regulations approved by the commission.
CPUC President Michael Peevey said at today's meeting that he supported the regulations to "ensure safety isn't compromised."
Peevey said the companies are part of a "rapidly growing sharing economy" and that the commission needs to keep drivers and passengers safe.
The CPUC, which regulates passenger carriers, will expand their purview to this "new path-breaking approach to transportation," Commissioner Mark Ferron said.
Ferron said the rules will promote safety yet foster the developing industry.
"We're the first commission to grant this authority on a statewide basis," he said.
Ferron said in recent months since the proposed regulations were introduced, he has met with taxi companies and drivers, who mostly oppose regulating the alternative transportation service.
"Taxicabs provide an extremely valuable service to communities," Ferron said. "They are a unique and time-tested form of transportation." He concluded, "We have room for both types of transportation providers."
Ferron called for a workshop to be held in one year to examine the effects of the transportation network companies, and for continual assessments of the service.
Commissioner Mike Florio said he thinks taxis and online-enabled ridesharing services can co-exist.
"We have folks who only use these services, other people who only use cabs and people have different preferences and different needs," Florio said.
"This will allow both to take place on a fair basis."
Commissioner Carla Peterman emphasized that the regulations are about safety.
"Overall I feel these new rules will improve safety," she said.
She advised consumers to get informed about transportation options and rideshare drivers "to be educated on what will happen in the event of an accident."
83-Year-Old Woman Has Purse Snatched In Excelsior
An elderly woman had her purse snatched by a female suspect in San Francisco's Excelsior District on Wednesday morning, police said today.
The 83-year-old woman was robbed at about 10:45 a.m. near Naples Street and Italy Avenue, according to police.
The suspect approached the woman from behind and grabbed her purse.
The victim tried to hold onto it but the suspect overpowered her and fled with the purse, which contained a cellphone, credit cards and cash, police said.
The woman complained of pain to her shoulder and sought medical treatment for the injury, according to police.
The suspect remained at large as of this morning.
Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.
UC Launches Crowdfunding Scholarshp Campaign
The University of California has launched a six-week crowdfunding campaign, Promise for Education, to raise money for student scholarships.
The campaign, which was launched Wednesday, will encourage individuals to make a personal promise like running a marathon, volunteering or growing a beard, then set a crowdfunding goal and share their promise through social media.
Donations can then be made to see the promises fulfilled and all proceeds will go to University of California students with financial needs, according to university officials.
Promise for Education is the latest addition to the university's Project You Can campaign, which aims to raise $1 billion for student support by 2014.
Celebrities and notable public figures are appearing in public service announcements and creating promises to encourage public engagement.
Jamie Foxx, David Spade and Gabrielle Union are among the celebrities participating in the campaign, according to university officials.
Sponsors of the campaign include Facebook, Bank of America and Spotify.
To make a promise, make a donation or to learn more about the campaign, people can go to promiseforeducation.org.
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