CPUC issues first operating permit for ridesharing company

Summon, one of several companies in the burgeoning ridesharing industry in the state, was the first to be issued an operating permit by the California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC officials said.

The San Francisco-based company, formerly known as InstantCab, was issued the permit under new public safety rules the CPUC issued last September under a category the commission calls transportation network companies (TNC).

Summon met all 28 rules and regulations set by the CPUC, including requiring drivers to undergo criminal background checks, establishing a driver training program, implementing a zero-tolerance substance abuse policy and setting up a minimum $1 million-per-incident commercial liability insurance policy.

“Being the first company to receive the permit demonstrates Summon's commitment to rider safety,” the company said in a statement.

The company says it offers customers the choice to summon either personal or taxi rides via a smartphone app.

Other TNC applicants, including Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, have applied for the permits and are being allowed to operate while the applications are pending, CPUC officials said.

The topics of safety and insurance for ridesharing companies have drawn increased attention following the New Year's Eve incident in which an Uber driver struck and killed 6-year-old Sofia Liu at Polk and Ellis streets in San Francisco.

Taxi advocates have also criticized the ridesharing companies for operating under less stringent regulations than those required for cab companies.

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