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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Uber Battling Lyft and State Legislature

Posted By on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 3:05 PM

click to enlarge Uber PSA opposing AB 612 and AB 2293 - UBER AD
  • Uber ad
  • Uber PSA opposing AB 612 and AB 2293
The second richest startup in history is suddenly waging battles on multiple fronts, with nearest competitor Lyft accusing it of a massive ride cancellation scam, and the state Senate considering new regulations for transportation network companies.

On Tuesday, Lyft told CNN Money that Uber employees had booked and canceled 5,560 rides with Lyft drivers, in a coordinated plot that recalls the company's alleged ride-ditch hoax against Israeli company Gett in February. Uber swung back with ride-ditch accusations of its own, telling the New York Times that Lyft drivers and employees had cancelled 12,900 Uber trips, and that further, Lyft was just sore because investors were vying for an Uber acquisition.

The accusation of the 12,900 requested and cancelled trips has thus far been unsubstantiated; Lyft has publicly denied the acquisition rumor. Meanwhile, Uber has launched an aggressive "California Needs Uber" campaign against state Assembly bills 2293 and 612, which would both impose tighter restrictions on app-based chauffeur services.

AB 612 would require new permits for charter-party carriers that contract with startups like Uber and Lyft. AB 2293 would require the Ubers and Lyfts of the world to disclose the limitations of their commercial liability insurance to all drivers in writing. Both are scheduled to go before the Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow.

With petty ride-ditch spats and ad wars dominating the news headlines for both transportation network giants, it's not exactly an opportune moment for a "California Needs Uber" campaign — particularly one that characterizes Uber as a scrappy innovator being attacked by special interests. But Uber is embattled, and equipped with a powerful lobby of its own.

And clearly, the company isn't afraid to play dirty.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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