Lyft Minneapolis launches, city plans to ticket and tow - KMSP-TV

Lyft launches in Minneapolis, but city plans to ticket and tow mustache cars

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

In the very near future you might do a double take as a you see a car with a mustache coming down a Minneapolis street -- that mustache identifying the car as a driver in the Lyft program.

Lyft, marketed as a peer-to-peer ride movement, started a year and a half ago in San Francisco and just launched at 4 p.m. Thursday in Minneapolis.

"They are people like you and I," said Alma Aldrich, part of the Minneapolis launch team for Lyft. "They are interested in meeting other people, offering a friendly ride in their personal cars."

HOW IT WORKS

- Download the Lyft app

- A teal balloon on a map shows where you are

- Black cars on the map show drivers near you

- Request a Lyft and get connected with the closest available driver

Unlike a taxi there's no set fees, but rather a suggested donation at the end of the ride.

"We're not commercial drivers," Aldrich said. "Often our drivers are doing this to meet other people for the social aspect of it.."

HOW DOES LYFT GUARANTEE SAFETY?

"For our drivers we are doing DMV, national and county background checks, we're doing 19-point vehicle inspections, then we have a 5-star rating that both drivers rate passengers and passengers rate drivers," Aldrich explained.

WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

Not being a commercial driver is a problem, according to the city of Minneapolis.

The city says the services mirror traditional taxi cab services, therefor they must be licensed. The city also says it has no evidence Lyft drivers have commercial liability insurance and personal insurance doesn't cover a driver.

For now, Minneapolis says it will ticket and tow Lyft vehicles. In response, Lyft says it doesn't violate the existing regulations for taxis and for-hire services.

MINNEAPOLIS STATEMENT

Transportation network companies such as Lyft provide personal transportation services for hire that mirror traditional taxicab services. Minneapolis staff, including representatives from the License Department, City Attorney's Office, and Mayor Rybak's Office met with Lyft corporate officials several months ago and Lyft was provided copies of our ordinances which clearly require all persons providing taxicab services to obtain City of Minneapolis licenses per chapter 341 of our code of ordinances.

 

The point of licensing is to ensure that drivers and passengers are protected. Customers should have confidence that the service they're using is meeting safety and other standards. At this point, the City has no evidence that Lyft drivers have commercial liability insurance, and their personal liability insurance does not cover a driver if they're carrying a passenger for money. That leaves a serious gap in protecting customers and drivers. Ensuring that the proper insurance is in place is one of the reasons we require licensing in the first place.

 

A regional task force with representatives from the City of St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the Airports Commission has been meeting for several months and are actively working on proposed regulations that could allow such services authority to operate. The draft regulations are expected to be available by June of this year.

 

Every major market in the country is working to find ways to deal with this emerging industry. Our first priority is ensuring that the public is provided with the safest service possible, so we must be diligent in following the rules, which are in place to make sure customers are getting safe service.

LYFT RESPONSE

Lyft's new peer-to-peer model does not violate the existing regulations for taxis and for hire vehicles. We have been in touch with city leaders in Minneapolis to discuss our model and strict safety measures that go beyond what is required of taxis and limos. We support the Lyft community and stand behind our drivers as we work through these challenges together. It's our hope to continue productive conversations with the city to find a path forward that focuses on safety and allows ridesharing to thrive in the Twin Cities region.

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