Lyft ridesharing program already ticketed 6 times by city - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

UPDATE

Lyft ridesharing program already ticketed 6 times by city

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

There's a lot of buzz about a new way to get a ride around Kansas City, but not everyone likes the idea. The city is ticketing the new company Lyft saying their practice is illegal.

The new and easy way to get around the metro is as easy as downloading an app on your smartphone. While it is cheaper than a taxi cab, some say people may want to think twice before using it.

"I would call them a gypsy application," cab driver Mark Weldon said.

Weldon has driven a cab in the metro for the past three years. He's concerned about Lyft, the new ride-sharing service that started in the metro Thursday night.

"Now instead of competing with the 500 drivers that are allowed by the city, I have no idea who I'm competing against," Weldon said.

Riders enter their credit card info and location into the app, then ask for a ride. If a driver is available, they'll come pick the rider up in their vehicle.

"I'm learning the city all over again, places I've never been," Lyft driver Kathryn Johnson said.

The giant pink moustache on her vehicle indicated that Johnson is a Lyft driver and she's not concerned about picking up strangers for a ride. She doesn't think passengers should be worried either.

"I had to go through a background check. They want to make sure you have no violent crimes, no sexual crimes on your history," she said.

Lyft also does vehicle inspections and has liability insurance if their drivers get in a wreck, but Weldon has other concerns.

"They don't seem to be regulated," he said.

He's talking about things like permits – required for cabs, but not for drivers in personal vehicles. They are permits his boss Muhammed Noor said cost thousands of dollars.

"We're not trying to step on toes," Johnson said.

"I may not make the money I was able to make, and it could make me change my occupation," Weldon said.

Lyft faces some legal issues in Missouri. A St. Louis circuit judge signed a temporary restraining order against the company and already Kansas City, MO, is ticketing the company.

"Come to Kansas City, by all means, but just operate legally," said Gerald Countz, the assistant manager of regulated industries, the department that oversees taxi services. "We would require that the company be licensed with the city of Kansas City, MO, the vehicles all be licensed with the city of Kansas City, MO, as well as each individual driver is required to be permitted through the city of Kansas City, MO."

According to the city, Lyft doesn't meet those requirements, but the company says they shouldn't have to because they're not a taxi service. In a statement they said:

"Lyft's new peer-to-peer ridesharing model does not fit into existing regulations, and we look forward to working with local leaders in Kansas City to discuss our model and strict safety measures that go beyond what is required for taxis and limos. We support the Lyft community and stand behind our drivers as we work through these challenges together."

Challenges have increased for the company over the weekend. Lyft's already received six citations from the city for the illegal operation of an unlicensed vehicle and Countz said he's going to keep sending his cars out there looking for violators until Lyft gets into compliance.

"They're going to keep coming as longs as the ordinance is the way it is and Lyft is operating illegally, we're going to stay out there," he said.

City officials say it's all for the public's safety.

"We want to make sure that the citizens getting into these vehicles are getting in safe vehicles, and that the people driving them around don't have criminal backgrounds," Countz said.

Lyft has an online petition asking the city council and mayor to support ridesharing. There's no word yet on whether the city will take up the issue.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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