Regions Central Virginia

Legislation gives ride reservation service room to grow

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Print this page by Greg Kremer
Article image
Matt Donlon is one of the founders of Uzurv,
which offers a ride reservation app in 131 cities.
Photo by Rick DeBerry

Richmond-based Uzurv may be far from California, but it’s capitalizing on the popularity of San Francisco-based ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft.

Those companies disrupted taxi service in many cities by allowing users to hail rides (and make trips at lower costs) through the use of apps on their phones. Uzurv’s app adds a new wrinkle to this growing trend. It allows users to reserve rides with specific Uber and Lyft drivers. Uzurv only handles reservations and does not provide transportation itself.

The app has become popular since it was first launched  in 2016 by Matt Donlon and Harold Frans.  Uzurv now serves 131 U.S. cities.  But if the company had not received some help from the Virginia General Assembly, its app would not be available in its home state because prior law did not allow UZURV to arrange rides with “transportation network company” (TNC) drivers, like those working for Uber and Lyft.  If the situation had not been corrected, Uzurv would have ceased operations in Virginia, Donlon says.  

A bill passed by the legislature during its 2017 session, however, reclassified the company as a TNC broker, a company that arranges rides with TNCs but is not subject to the same state requirements.  The law goes into effect July 1.

He believes Uzurv’s app could help expand ride-sharing services to rural and suburban areas. With Uzurv reservations, drivers can plan their day around their schedule, making them more likely to make trips in less populated areas. Drivers not using the app are more likely to exclusively offer service in more populated areas because they can find more work there.

In most of its markets, Uzurv charges the driver and the rider 99 cents each per reservation. That means a rider pays the Uzurv charge on top of the fee paid to Uber or Lyft.   (In Richmond and five other cities, however, the company is testing a fee that is 50 cents higher, $1.49 for the rider.)  

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