GoGo Grandparent offers individuals, who cannot use a smartphone, for financial or physical reasons, the ability to reach Uber or Lyft and obtain a ride. The company’s founder invented the technology to assist his own grandmother. It quickly grew in popularity and is used by thousands of riders today.
After successfully operating without incident for several years, the company hit a bump in the road when it was contacted by the staff of the California Public Utilities Commission and advised that it must cease operations unless it obtained a permit from the Commission. GoGo pointed out that it owned no vehicles and did not engage any drivers. All it was doing was assisting those with physical or financial impairments to obtain the services of Uber or Lyft over a touch tone phone. GoGo advised the staff that obtaining a permit would require GoGo to obtain liability insurance it could not afford and clearly did not need. (As the Commission ultimately concluded, the riders GoGo sent to Uber or Lyft were protected by Uber and Lyft’s insurance. ) The Commission staff, nonetheless, continued to assert that GoGo was operating illegally and in February of 2019 the staff issued a citation fining GoGo.
Goodin, MacBride, Squeri & Day, agreed to represent GoGo on a pro bono basis in its appeal of the citation. The Commission conducted an evidentiary hearing and received two rounds of briefs during the summer of 2019 before issuing its decision in favor of GoGo on February 6, 2020. The decision found that “GoGo Grandparent is not a transportation network company or otherwise a charter-party carrier.”
Both GoGo and the Commission proceeding itself have been the subject of attention from the media, most notably in a front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle last November.
Goodin, MacBride was pleased to assist GoGo whose client base is largely comprised of individuals who live below the poverty line (and do not own a smartphone) or are seniors (who find a smartphone difficult to operate). Ten percent of GoGo’s client base are blind. We are honored to help these individuals continue to have access to Uber and Lyft.