New legislation would allow ridesharing in St. Charles County

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - Riding around town just got a little easier and more convenient in Missouri.

On Thursday, the Missouri State House gave final approval to legislation expanding ridesharing throughout the state.

For St. Charles, a county of 400,000 people, leaders said that this is welcomed news.

"Hallelujah, we are going to get into the 21st Century and be like most of the rest of the country," said St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.

The legislation would require companies to pay a licensing fee and adhere to a nondiscrimination policy.
It would exempt companies from local and municipal taxes and require drivers to submit to background checks and purchase vehicle liability insurance.

At present, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft operate out of St. Louis, but not St. Charles County.

"I think the long-term effect isn't just about Uber and Lyft, this is about the next great idea that comes along, so that when someone comes up with an even better idea, they don't have to fight the established powers that have a monopoly on the market," Ehlmaan said.

The upcoming change is welcomed news for avid motorcycle rider, Tevion Riggins.

"On nights like the weekends, I come down here pretty often and drink and everything," he said.

Riggins said that a lot of times his motorcycle is his only mode of transportation.

"Motorists out here, I think, can be pretty dangerous, so I feel safer in a car anyway," he said.

Even for local restaurants and bars, the new law could mean more customers and less worries about making sure they are getting home safely.

"I think a lot more people are going to feel comfortable coming down here and be able to drink and not worry about getting home on busy nights like the Fourth of July when they aren't able to get a cab or even on New Year's Eve," said Kandis Smith, general manger of Bobby's Place.

FOX 2 reached out to the two ride sharing companies.

In an email statement, Uber Public Affairs Associate, Charity Jackson wrote:

"We are thrilled both the House and Senate have passed a statewide framework for ridesharing in Missouri, ensuring Uber can always provide Missourians with safe and reliable transportation at the push of a button and create income opportunities in communities that need them most."

Lyft Communications Manager Scott Coriell wrote:

"Lyft is incredibly excited by passage of this bill, which will allow us to expand operations in Missouri and bring increased economic opportunities and transportation options to those around the state.

"We are currently working on expansion plans, pending signage of the bill, and hope to announce those soon."

KPLR 11 also reached out to the Metropolitan Taxi Commission and according to a statement from commissioner, W. Thomas Reeves, we were told:

"The MTC has tried over several sessions to work with legislators to make using all vehicles for hire as safe as possible for riders and fair for their drivers, while acknowledging the inevitability of TNCs. The impact of this bill on the taxi industry isn’t yet clear, but the MTC will be monitoring it.

"Some TNCs have been operating without any oversight in St. Louis for years.

"That will change when this becomes law."

The bill now heads to Governor Eric Greitens.

If he signs it, the law would take effect on August 28.