Transport Cars

After Lyft’s Big Push, New Cities Start Start Cracking Down

Apr 28, 2014 6:30 am

Skift Take

Regulating Lyft and other similar services as you would a livery driver seems to make sense, and it lets everyone move forward without all the saber-rattling.

— Jason Clampet

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Cab drivers and city leaders in Kansas City and St. Louis are among those pushing back against a new rideshare service.

The company known as Lyft began operating Thursday in Kansas City. Similar to rivals Uber and Sidecar, Lyft uses a mobile app to connect drivers with customers needing a ride.

Cab companies in Missouri and elsewhere have challenged the companies’ operations as outside the protections provided by city oversight, The Kansas City Star reported.

In Kansas City, inspectors have begun searching for the bright pink mustaches that Lyft drivers attach to the grills of their cars. After spotting one, authorities inform the drivers that they need permits to work in the city.

In St. Louis, Lyft was the target of a recent court order that temporarily bars it from operating there.

The services of Uber, Lyft and other rideshare companies have grown in popularity. Lyft announced recently that it expanded from 36 to 60 markets, including Kansas City.

Lyft spokeswoman Katie Dally said in an email to the Star Friday that Lyft’s “peer-to-peer” ride-sharing business doesn’t fit into the city’s current regulations. She said the company looks forward to working with the city “to discuss our model and strict safety measures that go beyond what is required for taxis and limos.”

Gerald Countz, assistant manager of the city’s Regulated Industries Division, said a vehicle carrying a paying passenger needs to be licensed to offer a livery service and the driver needs to have a permit to act as livery driver.

That’s different than a taxi driver, who operates with a meter. A livery driver settles the amount of the fare before taking on the passenger.

Operating a livery service in Kansas City requires payment of a $500 application fee and drivers need to pay $50 for a permit. Each vehicle is subject to a $22 inspection. The fees cover verification of the company’s operations, background checks on drivers and vehicle inspections.

In California, the state’s public utilities commission issued Transportation Network Company permits to some companies, including Lyft. The permit is separate from taxis and applies only to “online-enabled” services that connect passengers to drivers who use their personal vehicles.

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