Colorado Public Utilities Commission Dabbling in Taxicab Regulatory Reform

Yesterday Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) implemented recent legislature-initiated taxicab regulatory reform, according to Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal.

PUC officials eased taxicab passenger-pickup restrictions in accordance with SB 11-180. Colorado taxicab drivers can now pick up new passenger(s) anywhere within a one-mile radius, and a 20-minute drive, from when they dropped off their previous passenger(s), except at airports. Proctor explains, “Previously, [taxicabs] only could pick up passengers at designated loading zones, such as at hotels.

PUC also implemented several nuanced changes to comply with HB 11-1198. The Denver Business Journal reports these new changes include:

  • Transferring all safety jurisdiction over household goods movers from the PUC to the Colorado Department of Public Safety;
  • Standardizing provisions relating to the conduct of fingerprint-based criminal history record checks, both on initial issuance and remission as a condition of continued qualification to drive for a motor carrier; and
  • Requiring towing carriers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and post a $50,000 bond to ensure payment of any civil penalties assessed by the Commission.

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) lists the new rules online here.

Legislators should be recognized for their efforts to reform the PUC, however PUC officials are essentially dabbling in reform. Yesterday’s changes don’t merit further evaluation because Colorado needs a significantly more robust reform effort. This past spring, heavy-handed PUC regulators prevented the aspiring startup Mile High Cab Company from opening its doors and creating jobs. Next legislative session Colorado policymakers should drastically reduce the PUC’s duties, thereby allowing taxicab companies and entrepreneurs to compete to meet consumer demand.

For more on taxicab regulatory reform in Colorado, see Reason Foundation’s recent work here, here and here.