An Uber Driver Shares His Story

Op-ed explains efforts to permit and restrict ridesharing

A ridesharing entrepreneur who recently participated in a panel discussion at a Mackinac Center Issues and Ideas Forum in Lansing shared his story with Lansing State Journal readers in a recent op-ed.

Tim VanDongen began driving for Uber and Lyft as a way to make extra money, but eventually was earning enough to leave his primary job and make a career out of driving. Now, he has started a company, Ryde Media, which puts advertisements in Uber and Lyft vehicles.

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VanDongen has experienced first-hand the many benefits ridesharing companies offer to drivers and riders, but is concerned that onerous regulations might crush such opportunity.

Although this new service has the potential to provide thousands of new job opportunities to drivers and added convenience and reduced transportation costs to riders, it is limited in Michigan by government regulations that were developed when taxicabs were the only car-for-hire option and before smartphones even existed. As a result, consumers can only use Uber’s services in the six cities in Michigan that have explicitly given drivers permission to offer rides.

VanDongen, who is featured on the Mackinac Center’s Ridesharing webpage, explained that a package of “responsible and reasonable” bills moving through the House would allow drivers and riders to benefit from ridesharing services statewide. Unfortunately, bills making their way through the Senate would protect the taxicab industry at the expense of emerging technology.

A statewide approach to regulating this new industry makes sense. If regulations help promote safe ridesharing, then they should be as applicable in Detroit as they are in Traverse City. Further, drivers shouldn’t have to wait until their local municipality gives them permission to earn a living. In fact, last December Ohio created similar statewide regulations.

Read VanDongen’s entire op-ed at the Lansing State Journal.

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