City officials plan on new ordinances regarding ride sharing programs

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City is cracking down on two new ride sharing companies in town, Lyft and Uber.

In the next couple of months, they plan to come out with new ordinances that would require the businesses to adhere to city regulations.

“It’s got to be a level playing field, and right now it is not. Absolutely, it is not,” said Ken Olsen, President of the Ute Cab Company.

Olsen’s taxi service has been operating in Salt Lake for decades. While he doesn’t mind the added competition, he wants to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules.

“These people are just operating illegally,” Olsen said. “You don’t know who’s picking you up. They’re not licensed. They don’t have the proper insurance. I guess what’s really upsetting about the whole thing is Salt Lake City is willingly and knowingly, that they’re illegally operating, allowing them to do so.”

But the city does plan to take action with new laws in the near future. They’re just not quite sure what they’ll look like yet.

“That’s exactly what we’re working on right now is figuring out what’s the best regulatory regime to enable people to get a ground transportation license, but do so in a way that isn’t overly burdensome to them,” said David Everitt, Chief of Staff for the Mayor’s office.

Currently, to get a license to operate in the city, cab drivers must undergo a TSA background check, provide proof of insurance and undergo a vehicle inspection--among many other things. While Lyft and Uber place similar requirements on their drivers, the city has no proof of it.

“We’d be talking about an insurance requirement of some kind, as well as vehicle standards that would need to be met,” Everitt said.

In separate statements to FOX 13 News, company officials with both Lyft and Uber said they’re eager to work with the city on the issue, but also believe they have secure measures in place, as it is.

“Lyft's rigorous safety measures far exceed what is required of existing providers and residents have enthusiastically welcomed Lyft's peer-to-peer model for safe and affordable rides,” said Chelsea Wilson, a spokeswoman for Lyft.

While the city drafts its new policies, drivers for the companies intend to continue servicing customers in the area.

“I can see why they’d be upset. But at the same time, I think it’s going to make them better because it’s so difficult to get a cab sometimes. And I’ve gotten cabs downtown, it’s not easy,” said one driver for Uber, who asked that his name not be used.

City officials have issued dozens of warnings to drivers, informing them they’re currently violating city regulations.

However, many are hoping those will subside, in lieu of the pending reforms to city law.

“This is a good thing. It will create a new market because it’s so much more simple,” the driver for Uber said.

4 comments

  • Tyler Riggs (@TySpace)

    The protesting from Ute Cab and eventually other SLC-based taxi companies is the exact same song and dance that has been heard in countless other cities Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have opened shop in: “Make it a level playing field.” This statement fails to acknowledge the differences between the business models and attempts to deflect away the fact that cab companies have failed to innovate their business model over the last 20+ years and now are paying for it.

    Taxi companies are regulated in a more heavy handed way for one key reason: Street hails. A licensed taxi can pick up someone off the street who whistles down a car. Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar cannot do this. Someone requesting a ride with Uber is making a personal choice to use that service, is getting into a car that has been inspected by Uber, by a driver who has had criminal and personal background checks conducted, and who is operating with at least $1 million in insurance coverage provided by Uber. At the end of the ride, the passenger gets to rate the driver, and the driver gets to rate the passenger. As a result of this rating system, both bad drivers and bad passengers are weeded out of the system.

    Sorry Ute Cab, you had 20 years to innovate. You didn’t do it. Don’t cry for government protection now that your about to become obsolete. On the bright side, your drivers can do what nearly 1/3 of taxi drivers in SF and NYC did, and that’s go work for Uber where they’re making $70-90k a year (far more than the $30k a year your drivers are making because they’re sacrificing a lot of money through an inefficient value chain, i.e. dispatchers.)

  • Amber W Wendy

    If they can provide services the taxis have fought (like accessible cabs) I am all for some competition. But I do want to make sure basic safety concerns are addressed.

  • Joshua Bryner

    My issue with this report is it doesn’t say what they are in “violation” for. Yes they say they are violating city policy but what exactly. To me it seems like they are following the same rules the issue is that the city doesn’t have proof that they are. What are the cops writing warnings and citations for? “They have to make it level playing field”. Who ever said life is a level playing field. This is the boon of our society today. Just because some one is doing something better than them they cry out “Help me government”.

  • Carl

    Anyone that has used any of this town’s sub standard cab companies should be excited that is an amazing alternative. Lyft let’s you know when you ride will pick you up or if there is not a ride within 15. Not to mention the cars are not from the 20th century & do not smell like a fry cook after an 18 hour day.

    Perhaps this competition will make the 3 big cab companies rethink their business model, and stop using Danny Devito as inspiration.

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