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SB-1376 Transportation network companies: accessibility for persons with disabilities.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 09/24/2018 09:00 PM
SB1376:v93#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 1376
CHAPTER 701

An act to amend Section 5440 of, to add Section 5431.5 to, and to add and repeal Section 5440.5 of, the Public Utilities Code, relating to transportation, and making an appropriation therefor.

[ Approved by Governor  September 22, 2018. Filed with Secretary of State  September 22, 2018. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 1376, Hill. Transportation network companies: accessibility for persons with disabilities.
The Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act defines a transportation network company as an organization, whether a corporation, partnership, sole proprietor, or other form, operating in California that provides prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled platform to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles. The act also defines a participating driver or driver as any person who uses a vehicle in connection with a transportation network company’s online-enabled application or platform to connect with passengers. A violation of the act or a rule of the Public Utilities Commission with regard to charter-party carriers is generally a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 3 months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
Existing rules of the Public Utilities Commission require a transportation network company to allow passengers to indicate whether they require a wheelchair-accessible vehicle or a vehicle otherwise accessible to individuals with disabilities and requires the transportation network company to submit a specified report to the Public Utilities Commission detailing the number and percentage of their customers who requested accessible vehicles and how often the transportation network company was able to comply with requests for accessible vehicles.
This bill would require the commission, as part of its regulation of transportation network companies (TNCs), to establish a program in a new or existing proceeding relating to accessibility for persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users who need a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). As part of the program, the bill would require the commission, by January 1, 2019, to begin conducting workshops with stakeholders in order to determine community WAV demand and WAV supply and to develop and provide recommendations regarding specified topics for programs for on-demand services and partnerships. The bill would require each TNC, by July 1, 2019, to pay on a quarterly basis to the commission an amount equivalent to, at a minimum, $0.05 for each TNC trip completed using the TNC’s online-enabled application or platform that originates in one of the geographic areas selected by the commission for inclusion in the program and would authorize the commission to adjust that fee in each geographic area to different levels based on the cost of providing adequate WAV service within the geographic area. The bill would exempt a TNC from payment of the fee in a geographic area if the TNC meets the level of WAV service designated by the commission for that geographic area, as specified, and would require the commission to reduce the amount of money a TNC is required to pay if it meets certain requirements. The bill would require moneys collected by the commission to be deposited in the TNC Access for All Fund, which the bill would create, and would continuously appropriate moneys deposited in the fund to the commission for purposes of the program. The bill would require the commission to distribute funds from the TNC Access for All Fund on a competitive basis to access providers that establish on-demand transportation programs or partnerships to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in the geographic areas selected by the commission. The bill would require the commission to authorize no more than 2% of existing funds collected from TNCs and deposited in the Public Utilities Commission Transportation Reimbursement Account to be distributed to accessibility advocates who provide a substantial contribution to the proceeding, thereby making an appropriation. The bill would require the commission to report to the Legislature by January 1, 2024, on the compliance with these provisions and on the effectiveness of the on-demand transportation programs or partnerships funded pursuant to these provisions. The bill would authorize the commission to hire an independent entity to administer the program and to complete the report to the Legislature.
This bill would repeal these provisions on January 1, 2026.
Because a violation of the rules adopted by the commission would be a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
This bill would include a change in state statute that would result in a taxpayer paying a higher tax within the meaning of Section 3 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution, and thus would require for passage the approval of 2/3 of the membership of each house of the Legislature.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the TNC Access for All Act.

SEC. 2.

 Section 5431.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

5431.5.
 In addition to the definitions provided in Section 5431, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) “Access provider” means an organization or entity that directly provides, or contracts with a separate organization or entity to provide, on-demand transportation to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.
(b) “Wheelchair accessible vehicle” or “WAV” means a vehicle equipped with a ramp or lift capable of transporting nonfolding motorized wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or other mobility devices.

SEC. 3.

 Section 5440 of the Public Utilities Code is amended to read:

5440.
 The Legislature makes the following findings and declarations:
(a) The commission has initiated regulation of transportation network companies as a new category of charter-party carriers and continues to develop appropriate regulations for this new service.
(b) Given the rapidly evolving transportation network company service, it is the intent of the Legislature to continue ongoing oversight of the commission’s regulation of these services in order to enact legislation to adjust commission authority and impose specific requirements or prohibitions as deemed necessary as these services evolve.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the commission initiate regulation of charter-party carriers in accordance with Section 5440.5 to ensure that transportation network company services do not discriminate against persons with disabilities, including those who use nonfolding mobility devices.
(d) Technology application-based ride hailing services, such as those services provided by transportation network companies (TNC), have impacted the lives of many people by reducing transportation barriers that limited access to jobs, health care, and society. However, more can be done to enable increased access to on-demand transportation services for people with disabilities, especially for persons using nonfolding motorized wheelchairs.
(e) The availability of transportation services, especially on-demand transportation service, can improve economic competitiveness and quality of life. Many individuals fulfill their transportation needs through vehicle ownership, public transit, carpooling, or walking and biking. However, transportation network companies or other application-based ride hailing services enable alternative, on-demand access to transportation.
(f) There exists a lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) available via TNC online-enabled applications or platforms throughout California. In comparison to standard vehicles available via TNC technology applications, WAVs have higher purchase prices, higher operating and maintenance costs, higher fuel costs, and higher liability insurance, and require additional time to serve riders who use nonfolding motorized wheelchairs.
(g) It is the intent of the Legislature that California be a national leader in the deployment and adoption of on-demand transportation options for persons with disabilities.
(h) It is the policy of the state to encourage collaboration among stakeholders and to promote partnerships to harness the expertise and strengths of all to serve the public interest.
(i) The Legislature further finds that adoption of services in communities that were previously underserved may take time, and requires robust dialogue, educational outreach, and partnerships to build trust in the new services.
(j) It is the intent of the Legislature that wheelchair users who need WAVs have prompt access to TNC services, and for the commission to facilitate greater adoption of wheelchair accessible vehicles on transportation network companies’ online-enabled applications or platforms.

SEC. 4.

 Section 5440.5 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

5440.5.
 (a) As part of the regulation of transportation network companies (TNCs) referenced in subdivision (a) of Section 5440, the commission shall do all of the following:
(1) In a new or existing proceeding, establish a program relating to accessibility for persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users who need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV). This program shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
(A) By January 1, 2019, the commission shall begin conducting workshops with stakeholders, including California cities and counties, disability rights organizations, persons with disabilities, transportation and transit agencies, social service transportation providers, paratransit coordinating councils, and transportation network companies, in order to determine community WAV demand and WAV supply and to develop and provide recommendations regarding the establishment of geographic areas, criteria for Access Fund expenditures, and educational outreach objectives for programs for on-demand services and partnerships consistent with the requirements of this section. Workshops may also examine topics including, but not limited to, vehicle specifications, subsidies for wheelchair pickups, maintenance and fuel costs, designated pickup locations for drivers in locations where door-to-door service is not feasible, standards for trip requests, response times, and rider initiated cancellation, limiting of stranded users, integration of service into city and county transportation plans, or any necessary training or additional incentives for WAV drivers that results in a measurable impact on service availability, efficiency, and efficacy. The commission shall conduct a minimum of five workshops throughout the state.
(B) (i) The commission shall require each TNC by July 1, 2019, to pay on a quarterly basis to the commission an amount equivalent to, at minimum, 0.05 dollars ($0.05) for each TNC trip completed using the transportation network company’s online-enabled application or platform that originates in one of the geographic areas selected pursuant to subparagraph (D), except if the TNC meets the requirements of an exemption established by the commission pursuant to subparagraph (G). The commission may adjust the fee in each geographic area selected pursuant to subparagraph (D) to different levels based on the cost of providing adequate WAV service within the geographic area.
(ii) Each TNC shall charge its customers on each TNC trip completed the full amount of the per-trip fee established pursuant to this subparagraph, and remit the total amount of those fees charged to the commission each quarter. The commission shall authorize a TNC to offset against the amounts due pursuant to this subparagraph for a particular quarter the amounts spent by the TNC during that quarter to improve WAV service on its online-enabled application or platform for each geographic area and thereby reduce the amount required to be remitted to the commission. In order to offset amounts due pursuant to this subparagraph in a geographic area, the commission shall require a TNC, at a minimum, to demonstrate, in the geographic area, the presence and availability of drivers with WAVs on its online-enabled application or platform, improved level of service, including reasonable response times, due to those investments for WAV service compared to the previous quarter, efforts undertaken to publicize and promote available WAV services to disability communities, and a full accounting of funds expended.
(C) The commission shall create the TNC Access for All Fund (Access Fund) and deposit moneys collected pursuant to subparagraph (B) in the Access Fund. The commission shall distribute funds in the Access Fund on a competitive basis to access providers that establish on-demand transportation programs or partnerships to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users who need a WAV, in the geographic areas selected pursuant to subparagraph (D).
(D) The commission shall select geographic areas, which shall be based on the demand for WAVs within the area and selected according to outcomes of workshops in subparagraph (A), for inclusion in the on-demand transportation programs or partnerships funded pursuant to subparagraph (C). The commission shall allocate moneys in the Access Fund for use in each geographic area in a manner that is proportional to the percent of the Access Fund fees originating in that geographic area.
(E) The commission shall request access providers to submit applications to receive funds pursuant to subparagraph (C) by April 1, 2020. The commission may accept applications for new on-demand transportation programs or partnerships any time after April 1, 2020. From the applications that are submitted, the commission shall select by July 1, 2020, on-demand transportation programs or partnerships to receive funding based on criteria adopted by the commission in consultation with stakeholders described in subparagraph (A). As part of the criteria, the commission shall require an access provider to demonstrate in its application, at a minimum, how the program or partnership improves response times for WAV service compared to the previous year, the presence and availability of WAVs within the geographic area, and efforts undertaken to publicize and promote available WAV services to disability communities.
(F) The commission shall distribute funds pursuant to subparagraph (E) in the Access Fund within 90 days following the end of each year. If no access provider meets the requirements, funds shall remain in the Access Fund and be distributed the next year.
(G) The commission shall require each transportation network company to be accessible to persons with disabilities in order to be exempt from paying the charge required pursuant to subparagraph (B). The commission shall adopt a designated level of WAV service that is required to be met in each geographic area via a TNC’s online-enabled application or platform in order for the TNC to be exempt from paying the fee required pursuant to subparagraph (B) for the next year in that geographic area. As part of the designated level of WAV service for each geographic area, the commission shall require a TNC, at a minimum, to have response times for 80 percent of WAV trips requested via the TNC’s online-enabled application or platform within a time established by the commission for that geographic area. If a TNC meets the WAV service level requirement established pursuant to this subparagraph in a geographic area selected pursuant to subparagraph (D) for a particular year, the TNC is exempt from paying the fee imposed pursuant to subparagraph (B) for the next year for that geographic area only. A TNC may provide a higher level of service than the minimum service level requirement designated by the commission.
(H) A TNC may meet the requirements of clause (ii) of subparagraph (B) and subparagraph (G) by facilitating WAV service through its online-enabled application or platform, by directly providing WAV service with vehicles that it owns, or by a contract to provide WAV service with a transportation provider, or by any combination of these methods.
(I) Within 30 days after the end of each quarter beginning after July 1, 2020, a transportation network company that receives an offset pursuant to clause (ii) of subparagraph (B) or an access provider that receives funding pursuant to subparagraph (C) shall submit a report to the commission. The report shall include, but shall not be limited to, all of the following:
(i) The number of WAV rides requested.
(ii) The number of WAV rides fulfilled.
(iii) Data detailing the response time between when a WAV ride was requested and when the vehicle arrived.
(iv) Information regarding educational outreach to disability communities, including, but not limited to, information and promotion of availability of WAVs for wheelchair users.
(v) A detailed description of expenditures or investments, as applicable.
(J) The commission shall establish yearly benchmarks for TNCs and access providers to meet to ensure WAV users receive continuously improved, reliable, and available service. These benchmarks shall include, but are not limited to, response times, percentage of trips fulfilled versus trips requested, and number of users requesting rides versus community WAV demand for each geographic area.
(K) The commission shall authorize no more than 2 percent of existing funds collected from TNCs pursuant to Section 421 and deposited into the Public Utilities Commission Transportation Reimbursement Account to be distributed to accessibility advocates who provide a substantial contribution to the proceeding initiated pursuant to this section, and only for the duration of the commission proceeding initiated pursuant to this section. These funds may only be distributed to advocates for accessible transportation or representatives of a group whose membership uses accessible transportation. The commission shall distribute funds pursuant to this subparagraph in a manner consistent with the requirements of Sections 1803 to 1808, inclusive. The commission shall not increase the fees authorized pursuant to Section 421 in order to fulfill the requirements of this subparagraph. Nothing in this subparagraph is intended to allow parties to obtain intervenor compensation for other transportation proceedings at the commission.
(2) (A) Report to the Legislature by January 1, 2024, on compliance with the section and on the effectiveness of the on-demand transportation programs or partnerships funded pursuant to this section. The report shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(i) A study on the demand for WAVs, including demand according to time of day and geographic area.
(ii) An analysis of the reports required to be submitted by access providers receiving funding pursuant to paragraph (1).
(iii) The availability of unallocated funds in the Access Fund, including the need to reassess Access Fund allocations.
(iv) An analysis of current program capabilities and deficiencies, and recommendations to overcome any identified deficiencies.
(B) The report required by this paragraph shall be submitted to the Legislature in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(3) Create a working group with stakeholders described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) to examine the variety of agencies, localities, and programs that provide transportation services for persons with disabilities, including passenger stage carriers and charter-party carriers within the commission’s jurisdiction, in order to evaluate ways to partner with those agencies to provide services to disabled persons in a nonduplicative, nondiscriminatory, and more efficient manner.
(b) Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, moneys deposited in the TNC Access for All Fund created pursuant to subparagraph (C) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) are continuously appropriated to the commission without regard to fiscal years for purposes of the program established pursuant to this section.
(c) The commission may hire an independent entity to administer the program established pursuant to subdivision (a) and to complete the report required pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a).
(d) Nothing in this section shall limit the rights of any person to pursue any remedies or causes of action that they may have under any state or federal law to enforce compliance with those laws or the obligations stated in this section. Nothing in this section shall be construed to expand or limit any obligations, if any, of a transportation network company under existing state or federal disability access laws.
(e) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2026, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 5.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.