CAN I GIVE YOU A LYFT?
It’s a good question that Shreveport and Bossier residents have been asking since the Shreveport City Council voted in February of this year to approve an ordinance that would allow for ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft to operate in the city. And the recent announcement that Uber will be soon be operating in Texarkana, Texas, has raised the angst of local residents on both sides of the river who are disappointed that this transportation option is not available.
The Shreveport ordinance outlines the requirements for a transportation network company (TNC) to be licensed in the city, as well as TNC drivers. As defined by the ordinance, a TNC is a business that uses a digital network to connect transportation network company riders to transportation network company drivers who provide prearranged rides. A TNC driver is an individual who uses a personal vehicle to offer a prearranged ride to riders upon connection through a digital network controlled by a transportation network company in return for compensation by the riders; the TNC driver pays a fee to the transportation network company. Bossier Parish has piggy-backed on Shreveport; its TNC ordinance recognizes any TNC licensed by Shreveport.
The TNC ordinance differs from the ordinance regulating other vehicles for hire, which include taxi cabs, courtesy transportation services, interactive services or providers of any other vehicle-for-hire services, including limos.
In 2014 East Baton Rouge Parish passed its version of a TNC ordinance; Uber and Lyft have been operating in the greater Baton Rouge area since then. New Orleans enacted a TNC ordinance in 2015, and Uber and Lyft opened in the Crescent City that year. These services were expanded in 2016 to allow full services by TNC to and from Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner.
The primary difference between the Shreveport TNC ordinance and those of Baton Rouge and NOLA, other than fees for the companies and the drivers, is the requirement that a TNC must execute an agreement “to defend, indemnify and hold harmless the city, its officers, agents and employees for any incident that causes harm to a third party and arises from the intentional or negligent acts of the TNC or any of its drivers.” This requirement is in addition to the insurance regulations for both the TNC and its drivers.
Shreveport’s TNC ordinance incorporates the insurance requirements of the Louisiana Transportation Network Company Motor Vehicle Responsibility Law, and also requires that certificates of insurance provided for driver and company licenses “shall further identify the city, its elected officials, officers, directors, employees as additional insureds under such insurance.”
These indemnification requirements are not included in the East Baton Rouge Parish nor the NOLA ordinances. Both of these require primary liability coverage insurance in the amount of “at least $1,000,000 for death, personal injury and property damage” as well as uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage in the same minimum amount. These are the same requirements for insurance coverage in the state statute which Shreveport has incorporated into its TNC ordinance."Both Uber and Lyft have expressed interest in opening operations in the Shreveport-Bossier area; neither has offered a timeline nor any reason for the delay in expanding to this area. Some observers believe that the indemnifi cation requirements of the Shreveport ordinance is the primary hold-up for a TNC here.”
Both Uber and Lyft have expressed interest in opening operations in the Shreveport-Bossier area; neither has offered a timeline nor any reason for the delay in expanding to this area. Some observers believe that the indemnification requirements of the Shreveport ordinance is the primary hold-up for a TNC here. When questioned about the need for the indemnification over and above the $1,000,000 insurance coverage and the possible negative impact of the same on TNC expansion to this market, City Councilman William Bradford stated, "The city of Shreveport incorporated an indemnification and hold harmless provision in the Transportation Network Company Ordinance for the purpose of holding those companies solely accountable for the actions of its drivers. The provision was not intended to be a barrier to business and per the request of the public safety committee will be reevaluated and reworked to be more in line with other jurisdictions."
It's time for the Tyler administration or the Shreveport City Council to review the TNC ordinance indemnification requirement and the real need for having the same when weighed against the citizen requests for Uber/Lyft services in the city. If Shreveport believes more protection for the city is needed, then the TNC ordinance could be amended to increase the required insurance coverage.
John E. Settle Jr. has been a resident of Shreveport since January 1977. His articles appear regularly in local publications. He can be reached at 742-5513 or e-mail to: John@jesettle.com.