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City Considers Changes to Legalize Lyft

Pkg203 via Wikimedia Commons

This summer, Salt Lake City began issuing warning citations to Lyft and Uber drivers, but city officials are considering a plan to accommodate the ride sharing business model, with some conditions.

The e-transportation services employ independent drivers by connecting them to people in the city who need a ride. Salt Lake City is one of many local governments in the country that have pushed back on such companies. City code requires all ground transportation providers to be licensed and regulated to some degree. But a Lyft spokesperson says the peer-to-peer model does not fit into existing regulations because the drivers are part time and use their own vehicles.

David Everitt is Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s Chief of Staff. He says more than 100 citations have been issued and 17 fines.

“So people are very much on notice that, hey what you’re doing right now while awesome and probably soon to be legal, right now it’s not legal and we need to be enforcing our laws  in a way that’s consistent,” Everitt says.

The administration is recommending the council vote to eliminate the $30 or 30 minute prearrangement requirement for ground transportation operators who aren’t taxis, but require Lyft and Uber drivers be licensed by the city to operate. Lyft has promised to cover the cost of citations and any necessary legal fees. But Everitt says he doesn’t anticipate the company will continue to fork out cash.

“So it really makes a lot of sense for someone who wants to drive for Lyft or Uber to go through the process to get that ground transportation license,” Everitt says. “There is an annual fee. I don’t’ think it’s that much. It’s just a process that we have tried to make as efficient and easy as possible for people to do.”

The Salt Lake City council is expected to discuss the issue further at a scheduled meeting in September. 

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.
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