K. Casey Strong


"Ridesharing"h as long been touted as a means to reduce the pollution and congestion caused by personal vehicles, but in practice has been relatively unpopular among Americans. That outlook may be changing, however, thanks to new "Transportation Network Companies" (TNCs) that toe the line between ridesharing and for-hire passenger transportation services, such as taxis and limousines. UberX, Lyft, Sidecar, and other similar services have rapidly spread to cities throughout the United States, attracting the attention of investors and ire of incumbent transportation providers. Legal commentary has thus far focused on proposed regulations' implications for liability, public safety, and fairness, but this Comment seeks to broaden the conversation to assess their potential environmental implications. By scaling to a degree that ridesharing has been unable to do, TNCs may precipitate a shift away from personal vehicle ownership in urban areas; conversely, they may out-compete and threaten the viability of more sustainable transportation options. Through the lens of rulemakings in the California and Colorado Public Utilities Commissions and an ordinance implemented by the Seattle City Council, this Comment assesses which regulatory strategies and provisions are most likely to capture TNCs' potential benefits while mitigating environmental harms.