Prom season is fast approaching. We would like to take this opportunity to remind school officials of the potential problems that can occur when hiring an unlicensed transportation carrier and encourage that this information be communicated to parents and students. Unlicensed carriers operate illegally; fail to demonstrate compliance with insurance, safety, and driver requirements; and are less likely to operate safe vehicles.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) licenses and regulates limousines; party buses; and app-based ride services known as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft. These companies must carry between $750,000 and $5 million in liability insurance based on vehicle size, undergo annual vehicle or terminal inspections, and enroll in the Department of Motor Vehicle’s program that notifies the company when a driver accrues an adverse action on his/her driving record. Limousine and party bus drivers are subject to drug and alcohol testing. State laws require a company and its drivers to ensure that minors do not consume alcoholic beverages on board limousines or party buses. The CPUC requires TNCs to promptly suspend a driver accused of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers of TNCs must undergo background checks based on a driver’s Social Security number, which screens publicly available information for evidence of criminal convictions that prohibit a person from becoming a driver.
While all companies may transport minors, the CPUC requires a company whose primary business is to transport minors to ensure that each driver undergoes a fingerprint-based criminal background check performed by the California Department of Justice. Currently, five app-based companies transport minors and conduct fingerprint-based criminal background checks: HopSkipDrive, Dolightful (Kango), MVN 2 LLC, Tagsi, and Zum. Uber and Lyft require an accountholder to be at least 18 years of age, and minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
While there is no guarantee that a ride with a licensed carrier will be problem-free, parents and students are less likely to encounter problems with a licensed company.
Parents should make sure they receive a written contract for the transportation and check the company’s license (TCP) number, which is required on all advertising, at http://consumers.cpuc.ca.gov/moveandride/, or they may call the CPUC’s Transportation Enforcement Branch’s Consumer Intake Unit at 800-894-9444 and ask to verify the company’s operating authority.
Thank you for helping us to ensure that 2019 is a safe year for our students.
Tony Thurmond State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Michael Picker President, California Public Utilities Commission
Photo credit to CBSNewYork