Congress had strong words for Uber and Lyft after the ridesharing giants declined a request to appear at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday, October 16th. The CEOs of both Uber and Lyft decided against showing up at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee inquiry. The companies allegedly instead directed Congress towards third parties for potential participation.
U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D, Oregon) found it “unacceptable” that even after “numerous conversations” neither Lyft nor Uber would attend the hearing. As for why the hearings were being conducted, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D, D.C.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, said:
“As state and local governments struggle to integrate new modes of transportation into their networks, Congress must take an active role ensuring safety and accountability for the needs of the traveling public.”
The Transportation Network Companies (TNC) have been in the spotlight lately regarding traffic congestion, background checks, the deactivation of dangerous drivers, sexual assault by drivers, and unfair wages. It would seem logical that Uber and Lyft would like the chance to defend themselves during the inquiry, but it’s possible neither company was ready to proffer a solution to these important issues. Regardless of any potential reasons why they declined to appear at the hearing, Representative DeFazio sent letters to CEOs Dara Khosrowshahi (Uber) and Logan Green (Lyft), saying:
“Please be advised that I intend to pursue legislative solutions to address numerous issues plaguing the ride hailing industry, many of which will be raised at this hearing. These include conditions governing your partnerships with States and local governments and transit agencies, the labor impacts of your business model, and disturbing reports of public safety problems among those who use your platform. If you do not send a representative to testify at the hearing, you leave the Committee little choice but to make these policy decisions without your input.”
It would seem the TNCs are picking and choosing their battles, and decided to sit this round out. When new regulations could seriously threaten their bottom lines, it seems odd that neither company would send a single representative to participate in these talks. It remains to be seen how lawmakers will react to to this snub, as there’s a delicate balance between protecting consumers and not stifling burgeoning businesses.