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Uber’s car leasing program might violate state rules, PUC says

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Uber might be in violation of California regulations by allowing drivers to use leased cars.

(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images)

The California Public Utilities Commission is looking into whether Uber and other ride-sharing companies are violating state rules by allowing drivers to use leased vehicles on the job.

Uber last month announced a pilot car leasing program in California, Georgia and Maryland that will offer Uber drivers the option to lease a car. 

But the CPUC said car leasing does not appear to be covered by state regulations for transportation network companies.

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“If you get a permit from us and you’re a [transportation network company], it doesn’t authorize the use of vehicles other than those privately owned by the driver,” spokeswoman Constance Gordon said.

Gordon noted that the agency was not conducting a formal investigation, and that its interest in the matter reflected the newness of the ride-sharing model, which has left regulators around the world grappling with how to deal with Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and other rival companies.

“It’s a brand-new thing. We said when we first set regulations that we’d probably be changing them,” she said. “There are things we didn’t think of when we first regulated them, so we’re adjusting.”

She said there was no formal timeline for the commission to render a decision.

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Twitter: @byandreachang

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