Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ute Cab Tells SLC to Get Serious About Lyft Violations

Pkg203 via Wikimedia Commons

A Salt Lake City taxi cab company says the city should be more serious about cracking down on ride-share company Lyft instead of just warning drivers who city officials say are breaking the law.

Lyft is a smart-phone app that connects passengers to local drivers who offer rides with their own personal vehicles, identified by a pink mustache on the grill. City officials say it’s an innovative idea, but the company must first comply with local rules and regulations.

The city has started issuing warning citations to drivers. But UTE Cab Company President Ken Olsen says that’s not going to cut it.

“They need to be stopped,” Olsen says. “

He says his drivers are required to undergo rigorous background-checks and drive vehicles that receive regular maintenance and accommodate people with disabilities.

“Now you have people that are not being regulated that come free will and operate when, where how?” Olsen says. “You don’t know who’s picking you up in these vehicles.”

In a letter, city officials informed Lyft of their obligations to comply. But Art Raymond, a spokesman for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says they’ve yet to respond.

“Do to a lack of communication with this company, we don’t know what has been presented to these drivers and giving them a warning is a way for us to ensure that they’re not victimized as part of how this company is doing business, “Raymond says.

Madison, Wisconsin is another city sparring with Lyft. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin says his city performed a sting operation over the weekend, in which officers hailed the drivers with the Lyft apt and promptly cited them with hundreds of dollars in fines.

“They have made a strategic business decision which is to in affect crash the party,” Soglin says. “They are not going to obey anyone’s stinking laws, whether it’s in Salt Lake City, Madison or Paris.”

Soglin says it’s an issue of safety, fair business practice and equity. He worries the companies will circumvent local governments and appeal to state legislatures who might be more sympathetic. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.