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Editorial: Ride-sharing a smart move

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Gov. Susana Martinez wants ride-booking businesses like Uber and Lyft to be welcome in New Mexico.

“New Mexico should usher in a 21st-century economy, not reject it,” Martinez said recently.

Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, is sponsoring House Bill 168, which would allow ride-booking companies to operate in the state. Since they showed up here in 2014, their status has been up in the air. After a similar bill failed to make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate last year, the Public Regulation Commission adopted guidelines separate from those governing taxi companies, which contend ride-sharing businesses should be similarly regulated.

Lyft objected to the new rules and left the state, but Uber is still arranging rides between drivers and passengers in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.

HB168 would require “transportation network” companies to get a state permit from the PRC and it lays out conditions for when a driver can be considered an independent contractor rather than an employee. The bill would require criminal blackground checks, zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use by drivers, vehicle insurance and disclosure of fare calculations.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is a fan of ride-sharing. He says a temporary deal with Uber to operate at the Albuquerque International Sunport generated nearly 18,000 trips in its first 4½ months. Berry says having the airport service helps the city keep up with other “forward-thinking” communities.

And that is the direction the Legislature should take. Because many New Mexicans are already using their smartphones to catch rides, the state should be smart and pass legislation to regulate this 21st-century means of transportation.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.