Virginia DMV Gives Green Light to App-Based Delivery Service

by Lee Hernly, Editor

Uber Eats logo (Courtesy photo)

DMV Grants New Temporary Authority for App-Based Delivery Service
Uber Subsidiary Is First Company to Receive Authorization

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is now granting temporary operating authority to companies interested in arranging local delivery service via a digital platform.

In July 2015, DMV implemented Virginia’s transportation network company (TNC) law which allows authorized companies to match passengers with nearby drivers using a smartphone app and GPS technology.

Companies throughout the country are now using a similar business model to transport goods, rather than people, and expressed interest in bringing these services to Virginia. In response to these new models, DMV convened a group of stakeholders last year to begin discussing current laws applicable to property transportation and whether the laws should be modified to better recognize these new models.

Stakeholders agreed that change was appropriate, but that further discussion was warranted to ensure that policy recommendations weren’t prematurely formed, particularly as it pertains to public safety, competitive fairness and regulatory consistency.

As there was inadequate time for the stakeholder group to conduct a full study and make legislative recommendations before the 2016 General Assembly session, the legislature enacted provisions to position the Commonwealth to proactively address these rapidly emerging models in the short term. These provisions authorized the issuance of a temporary operating authority to property transportation network companies (PTNCs), upon successful application.

“Technology is a key to success in our new Virginia economy, so it is important that we stay ahead of the curve as new technology-based business models come our way,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb. “We thank the General Assembly for thinking progressively in granting us the ability to offer this temporary operating authority.”

This week, Uber subsidiary Portier, LLC was granted PTNC temporary operating authority and has begun delivering food in Northern Virginia via the UberEATS app. Portier is the first company in Virginia to apply for and receive PTNC temporary authority. DMV encourages other businesses with similar business models to also apply.

“Virginia continues to be a leader on solutions for new technologies, creating the first temporary regulatory framework for property transportation network companies in the country,” said Brian Gelb, General Manager of UberEATS. “We thank the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for its leadership, and look forward to working together on a permanent regulatory framework for this option in the Commonwealth.”

Valid for 130 days after the end of the 2017 General Assembly, the PTNC temporary authority sets limits on the size of vehicles used for delivery and travel distance of delivery, and requires insurance coverage and driving history checks for drivers, among other operating requirements. Companies are permitted to deliver most forms of property.

DMV is currently assembling a study group to make recommendations to the General Assembly for possible legislation to better address these emerging business models.

“Companies want to harness the popularity of app-based services to transport goods within Virginia. This temporary operating authority enables them to do that while DMV brings all the right people to the table to come up with a permanent solution to present to the legislature at the year’s end,” Holcomb said.

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