April 30, 2014 By News Staff
Ride-sharing is changing transportation habits in cities across the nation. Rather than hailing a taxicab on the street or calling a taxi company on the phone, more passengers are using smartphone apps to arrange rides from ride-sharing companies -- and they're paying for it through the mobile app, too. Though this convenience is seen as a positive for citizens, traditional taxicab companies disagree -- and many cities aren't quite sure how to handle it.
They're going to have to figure it out, though, because ride-sharing is quickly taking hold in metro areas. Ride-sharing firm Lyft in April launched service in 24 new cities in just 24 hours.
Some jurisdictions are tacking the issue. Take Chicago, for instance. On April 24, a proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to impose some regulation on ride-sharing companies operating in the city was sent to a full city council vote (which is supposed to happen the evening of April 30), the Chicago Tribune reported.
The revised ordinance would subject companies whose drivers average more than 20 hours per person per week to stronger oversight, including requiring all drivers to obtain chauffeur’s licenses. Also according to the Tribune, the ordinance gives the city authority to cap “surge pricing” when there is peak demand, such as during rush hours. But critics say the ordinance lacks adequate consumer protections, and leaves it up to ride-share companies like Uber, Lyft and SideCar to police drivers and track their driving hours.
In St. Louis, Lyft is dealing with a temporary restraining order from the city's taxi commission, which cited public safety concerns because the company's drivers aren't vetted by the commission, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported. Meanwhile, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says the city is working with Lyft rival Uber on allowing that firm to operate legally in the city. Uber has "suggested a few changes to the regulations," Slay wrote in a prepared statement. "The company has led me to believe that if those changes were made, it would abide by the other 80 pages of regulations and would seek certification from the Commission."