The amendments define rideshare services as commercial, non-taxi transport using vehicles with at least four passenger seats.
It stipulates that clients can only order rideshare services online or using mobile apps. The law, which will become effective on March 1, 2018 allows only non-cash payments for such services.
MP Edvards Smiltēns told Latvian Radio that security requirements and other nuances will be set forth by the government, and the new regulation aims to move rideshare services into the legal economy.
Tax chief Ilze Cīrule said she's pleased about the new regulation, seeing as it allows for easily collecting taxes by way of removing cash payments.
The law also defines taxi services as different from ridesharing, and it proposes that both cab drivers and rideshare providers will have to get a licence at the Road Transport Administration.
It also tasks municipalities with limiting taxi-caused pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Lastly, taxis will have to accept bank cards as a payment method.
The amendment to the Law On Carriage was passed with all 88 parliament MP’s present unanimously voting in favor. The new law regulates that ridesharing services can be offered by a passenger car with up to 4 seats. Ridesharing services will be able to be offered, requested and approved only through a mobile app, and the fare and payments will by calculated by the app, with only electronic payments accepted. Taxi services will continue to accept both cash and electronic payments.
Over the past few years, ridesharing services have experienced a rapid increase in popularity. Estonian-based Taxify is currently the leading mobile ride-booking app in Latvia.
“For Taxify, we are happy to see the ridesharing law passed. This is a significant step forward for everyone, but also a clear signal that Latvia is open to innovation and allows us to be much more competitive alongside the world. We look forward to introduce more private drivers on our app once the law will come into force,” said Juris Krumins, Taxify representative.
Driver registration for both ridesharing and taxi services will be provided by the Road Administration, which will also issue licenses to private drivers for passenger transport by passenger car. At present, passenger transport by taxi can only be carried out if the carrier has received a license issued by the municipality.