Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Angie Palmer poses for a portrait with her car in Midvale. The college student earns some money by driving for Lyft, but says she has been slapped with two $6,500 tickets by Salt Lake City. The city claims the drivers are violating city taxi ordinances, while the company and drivers say they are offering ridesharing services that aren't covered by the regulations.
Salt Lake City seeks to legalize commercial rideshares like Lyft, Uber

Companies such as Uber and Lyft are here to stay, says Mayor Becker.

First Published Aug 13 2014 04:54 pm • Last Updated Aug 14 2014 09:34 am

The future is here and so the law must change.

That’s the sentiment at City Hall as Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and the City Council wrestle with legalizing so-called transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Presently, Salt Lake City police are issuing $6,500 tickets — after three warnings — to Uber and Lyft drivers because they do not have commercial licenses that require adherence to city laws regarding such things as passenger safety, service standards and insurance.

Although a spokeswoman for Lyft could not be reached Wednesday, a company email said it would pay fines its drivers receive while working.

Nonetheless, city officials acknowledge that the new-age transportation service is different from a traditional taxi company — and the high-tech rideshare phenomenon is here to stay.

Uber and Lyft provide smartphone apps to connect people who want a ride with nearby drivers who use their own cars.

But an attorney who represents Salt Lake City’s Yellow Cab said rideshare undercuts cab companies, who by contract must provide a "sufficient" number of cabs around the clock for the public. Further, they cannot refuse a ride to anyone.

Neither of those regulations applies to Uber and Lyft, said Don Winder. Allowing those entities to operate without following the same regulations as cab companies eventually will lead to an overall decrease in transportation-service options as cab companies morph into rideshare operations.

"If the market is flooded, nobody can make money and quality of service declines," Winder said. "Who will be around at 2 a.m. to pick up that elderly person with a pain in the chest?"

Rideshare is expanding rapidly across the country and has caused transportation regulators to rethink policies, David Everitt, the mayor’s chief of staff, said in a memorandum to the council.


story continues below
story continues below

"Transportation network companies," Everitt said, "provide another choice to the public that makes car travel conveniently available to those who need it, while reducing the number of cars on the road."

Everitt suggested the council amend city ordinances to make way for the new transportation paradigm, while ensuring survival of traditional taxi companies. Uber and Lyft drivers, who use their own cars and are styled as independent contractors, could comply with many of the city’s regulations but they cannot observe the current 30-minute prearrangement requirement and $30 minimum required for limousine service, Everitt said.

In a preliminary discussion Tuesday, the council appeared ready to follow the mayor’s lead on finding a way to include commercial ridesharing among the city’s legal transportation options.

"Rideshare is a different animal, but we have to make sure everybody is operating under the same rules," said Council Chairman Charlie Luke. "We’re looking for a solution for rideshare companies as well as taxi companies. We’re taking a comprehensive approach."

Councilman Luke Garrott said that his first impression of such ridesharing services was disturbing.

But as he considered the transportation challenges and services in Salt Lake City he changed his mind.

"I was tied in knots about this," he said. "But now I see it as an opportunity."

The council will continue its discussion on transportation network companies at its Sept. 16 work session.

csmart@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.