JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Two new pieces of legislation pushed by the ridesharing company Uber would seek to help ridesharing companies spread more quickly across the state.
Rep. Kirk Mathews, R-Pacific, and Sen. Bob Onder, R-St. Charles, are sponsoring HB 2330 and SB 991, respectively, that would create regulations for ridesharing companies in Missouri. The bills would enabling Uber to spread to four new cities and strengthen its foothold in the three cities in which it already operates: St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia.
Sagar Shah, the general manager for Uber in Missouri, said at a press conference in the House Lounge Wednesday that the bill would provide 10,000 new part-time jobs for Missourians.
“Ridesharing legislation that you are supporting would open the door for more investment, more opportunities, more economic benefits across the region,” he said. “This legislation… establishes a modern statewide regulatory framework for ridesharing.”
Among the regulations, Mathews’ bill stipulates that Uber and other transportation network companies (TNCs) would have to apply for annual permits from the Department of Revenue, obtain insurance for each driver that recognizes they intend to use the vehicle to transport passengers, and follow safety measures to ensure drivers can transport riders safely.
Mathews’ bill has already made it through committee where it was opposed by taxi companies, who allege that ridesharing programs are essentially the same as taxi services and thus should be held to the same standards. Taxicab standards are generally more strict than those of ridesharing companies.
However, the bills are being championed by leadership in the House and the Senate.
“Since Uber has launched in Missouri it has provided more than just a ride home for people, it’s provided an economic opportunity for hundreds of Missourians,” Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff said. “It’s important we create flexible work opportunities for everyone across the state to ensure that work is available, and I think this is an important step for Missouri to continue to embrace a 21st century economy.”
Onder represented Senate leadership and noted that the extra money offered by working for Uber or other TNCs could help pay supplemental costs.
“[It] may make difference between paying the bills and slipping into debt,” he said. “It may be the difference between kids buying a new lap top or struggling to make enough money to pay for tuition and textbooks.”
Uber would also serve Springfield, Jefferson City, St. Joseph and St. Charles contingent on passage of the legislation, but Shah noted this would open the door to other larger cities in the state like Joplin and Cape Girardeau.
“We’re very excited for further expansion throughout the state and this is a start,” he said.
Richardson also joked that Poplar Bluff, a town of just over 17,000, would be high on the list.