Estonia to make ride sharing apps legal

By GovInsider

Lessons on how to deal with new business models.

A new bill to make ride-sharing apps legal will be discussed by the Estonian parliament this week.

The government is creating new rules specifically for these kinds of services. The move provides governments in the region lessons on how they can deal with new business models, like GrabCar and UberX, which let people get paid for rides in private cars.

The Estonian government has bundled the services under a new category it calls “negotiated passenger carriage”, which is different from public transport and taxi services, according to the Estonian newspaper Postimees.

The new kind of service will allow drivers of cars with up to nine seats to accept payment from passengers.

“Clear and strict requirements have been set down for it. For instance, orders must be placed solely through an electronic system,” member of the Economic Affairs Committee Kalle Palling told the paper.

The names of the company and driver and the car’s license plate number must be shown to passengers. The app must also show how it calculates the fare when a booking is made. Ride-sharing services are not eligible for any rights given to public transport, like driving in bus lanes.

The approach is similar to the one taken by the Philippines, which became the first to make Uber legal nationally in May last year. The government has created a new category called “Transportation Network Vehicle Services” within its law.

Drivers have to get a certificate from the government to ensure their cars meet certain standards. Cars must have a GPS tracker and navigation tool. Only certain types of cars such as sedans, SUVs, and vans are allowed to be used, and they cannot be more than seven years old.

Drivers must be screened and accredited by the ride-sharing companies for safety and must be registered with the land transport regulating authority.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Transport Minister has said that it will review rules for ride-sharing apps to “level the playing field” with taxi drivers.

Image by TausP., licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0