Mobility apps celebrate legislative victory in Brazil

Uber, Cabify, and local firm 99 unite to get user support; possible new legislations will be discussed at length before Senate vote.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

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Mobility apps celebrated their latest victory in Brazil as a Senate vote for legislation aimed at making their operation unviable has been postponed.

Uber, Cabify, and local firm 99 are the main companies sharing the urban mobility pie in Brazil and, similarly to other countries, have dealt with a fair amount of resistance from taxi lobbyists and politicians that support them.

The bill PLC 28/2017, analyzed by the Brazilian Senate yesterday (26), is aimed at increasing bureaucracy at such an event that it will render impossible for drivers to operate through the apps. No previous draft legislation on the topic had gone this far.

The bill outlines that drivers working through the apps will need to get taxi license plates and have special driving licenses as well as other documents that are currently required of taxi drivers.

These changes, according to the companies, not only render their own operation impossible but are also unviable to drivers. They also argue that the changes were not discussed with participation of the general public, including drivers and app users.

While this specific bill has been rejected in the session yesterday, another draft legislation project, more favorable to apps, was recommended for voting by the Senate.

This could be a short-lived victory, as politicians remain under pressure by taxi unions to regulate the service, but the aim appears to be reaching a middle ground between what the companies want and what is considered to be essential to ensure passenger rights and safety.

Potential regulations will now go through several commissions for discussion before being submitted for voting again.

Prior to yesterday, the three competing mobility companies campaigned together across social networks to get support from Brazilian while promoting their stance on the regulation matter.

This includes a suggested list of straightforward requirements from drivers and companies facilitating the relationship between them and users. This includes the need for criminal checks, vehicles in good condition and lack of driving impediments, as well as the establishment of an ongoing debate with regulators about how mobility providers can better meet user needs.

On a Facebook event created to discuss the issue with the general public, the competing companies say that the bill "removes the right of choice" from passengers and also suggests that Brazil "is not a safe country for disruptive business models."

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