The Motor Carrier Act regulates ‘passenger carriers’ for public safety and ‘adequate’ service. However, under both Articles 3 and 7 regulations for ‘rideshare’ apps and taxis, service is ‘inadequate.’
Both TNC’s and Taxis Inadequate Within Each Business Model
Lyft and Uber [TNC’s] are limited to Smartphone app credit card customers and cannot service cash and landline business.
On the other hand, the 2013 NM legislature ‘broke up’ the two state-regulated taxi monopolies, but now none of the resulting five (or six) smaller fleets are large enough to service the Albuquerque-Rio Rancho territory. Service times are often ’45 minutes to Never.’ Customers complain their phone calls ring without being answered. Customers, frustrated with vague promises of service, order from multiple companies, taking two or three taxis ‘out of service’ for one call.
Google ‘taxi albuquerque’ and there are two dozen listings, plus a dozen for Rio Rancho. (See Exhibit A)
The problem is there are only five cab companies for Albuquerque and one based in Rio Rancho. Confusing? You bet! This letter addresses that problem as well as suggesting how certified taxi companies can compete with Uber.
Improving Taxi Service So That All are Adequately Served
As mentioned above, Uber can’t take calls from landlines or from cash customers; that business is left to taxis. We can’t fight Uber and changing the law is burdensome in time and money. So, only alternative is how to help taxis reach the same level of service as Uber for their market.
While the TNC Act, codified in §7 of the Motor Carrier Act (NM Stat § 65-7-7 (2016))
specifically denies the NMPRC jurisdiction, Uber and Lyft are operating under bare-bones regulation and rules. Except for insurance and a $10,000 annual fee, TNC’s are essentially unregulated.
The disparity begs the question of constitutional ‘equal protection’ violations voiding the TNC Act (See Exhibit B), Supremacy Clause pre-emption , and Uber (its app permitting crossing of state lines) blatantly ignoring Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules.
I cannot predict the result of a 14th Amendment ‘equal protection’ challenge to the TNC Act (NMSA Ch 65 §7), but a safer solution is selective deregulation of taxi rules and regulations ‘in the public interest’ through waivers and variances.
Waivers and Variances
The technology exists, an Interactive GPS Map that can be linked through any taxi website and dispatch office. That technology will improve service five ways:
1) Proximity Dispatch Logistics assigns the taxi closest to the customer, increasing efficiency.
2) Customers who visit or are directed to the website(s) can use the Interactive Map to call the closest cab driver directly, without going through a dispatch office.
3) All taxi companies tracked on one map will make five ineffective small companies as efficient as one large company.
4) Customers who call the closest driver will get a ‘verbal contract’ for service, and not be tempted to call multiple companies.
5) As customers find or are redirected to the website, by advertising, telephone hold messages, and by the drivers themselves, traditional telephone dispatch offices will become more efficient and provide better service. More simply put, if a customer doesn’t want to be put on hold, or wants to talk to the driver, they have the option to use the Interactive GPS Map.
If taxi companies can operate with the same logistics as Uber, they can compete while providing equal service to landline, business, and cash customers.
Personal cars used as ‘taxis’ is possible under the ‘lease of certificate’ rule, as confirmed by former Director of Transportation Ryan Jerman.
How to Challenge Uber without Legislation or Litigation
Uber’s TNC Act and the Motor Carrier Act are both codified under Chapter 65 (NMSA). However, it is unconstitutional for two similar services (transportation of persons) to be regulated by different laws. That is a violation of the NM Constitution, §18 equal protection clause.
Does the state legislature have a legitimate interest and over-riding constitutional policy that permits such disparities between Articles 3 and 7? No.
The 2016 Transportation Network Services Act created a deregulated taxi and limo service in direct conflict with existing Motor Carrier Act rules; the rationality for permitting unvetted drivers and uninspected vehicles to operate as commercial carriers of passengers being a popular ‘ridesharing’ app. That app was so popular, and the rides so cheap in comparison to taxis, that the state ‘shelved’ enforcement of Motor Carrier safety regulations and let Uber drivers operate uninsured for two years.