Lyft now live in Anchorage, Uber starts Friday

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Bill signing with Bill Walker
With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Bill Walker allows ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber to operate in the state. Bill sponsors Sen. Anna MacKinnon, Sen. Mia Costello, and Rep. Adam Wool look on.

Anchorage residents can now use ridesharing, and Lyft has already turned on service, with the legislation to allow the service having just been signed by the governor at mid-day Thursday.

House Bill 132 makes Alaska the last state to permit ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

Uber officials said they’d be turning on service in Anchorage on Friday, Juneau on Monday, and Wednesday the rest of the state.

To use ridesharing, users download an application onto their smart phones. They sign up for the service, and that allows them to find a driver, get an established price, and have some certainty about how they are getting to and from their destinations, irrespective of taxi availability.

Ride-sharing allows citizens to be for-hire drivers using their own vehicles, but they must pass background checks and be driving relatively new cars, which must pass safety checks.

Lyft and Uber are the top known transportation network companies. Most drivers are doing to supplement their income from other jobs, although some drive full time.

“Our state needs options for economic growth during a recession, and rideshare is a great source of jobs for Alaskans,” said Sen. Costello. “I’m glad this important bill became law today.”

The bill was needed to clarify state insurance and labor laws, and allow rideshare technology to come to Alaska. It defines rideshare drivers as independent contractors and exempts them from workers’ compensation, similar to taxi drivers and several other professions.

“Rideshare drivers use their own cars, and work when and where they want,” Sen. Costello said. “It’s a flexible form of employment and is one of the only jobs allowed by the military for active duty members.”

 

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