Taxi companies want level playing field with Uber and Lyft

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You can’t drive around downtown Memphis anymore without spotting a car sporting a pink mustache.

That mustache indicates the driver works for Lyft.

Ridership continues to grow as companies like Lyft and Uber have hit the MidSouth.

Customers use apps to order a ride, then pay or tip the independent drivers.

Taxi cab companies across the country, including here in Memphis, want to put the brakes on the way ride sharing services are doing business.

Ham Smythe, IV is President of Yellow Cab Checker Cab.

Smythe already made a call to the city permits office to request changes, “We’re asking that the city and state enforce existing rules and that’s all on for hire services and these are unquestionably for hire services.”

That includes carrying ‘for hire’ transportation insurance.

Smythe isn’t the only one with concerns.

The Tennessee Commerce and Insurance Commissioner recently warned of gaps in coverage for Transportation Network Companies.

Legislation that would mean tougher and more expensive requirements led to an all out protest in California.

WREG recently went for a ride with a Lyft driver who told us drivers are put through a background check,.

He also said vehicles are inspected and drivers are set up with a mentor driving skills are tested.

Smythe says it’s not enough.

He says taxis follow strict regulations and companies like Uber and Lyft should face the same.

“It means a third party’s inspecting to make sure you’re doing vehicle background checks, motor vehicle checks, criminal record checks.”

Much of this demand for regulation came after a six-year-old girl in California died after being hit by an Uber driver.

Her family is suing and claims the company ignores distracted driving laws due to the way the app works.

The City of Memphis permits office told me they’re currently studying their options as it relates to all the companies involved.

Lyft provided the following information about its safety policies and insurance:

• Lyft has a $1,000,000 commercial liability insurance policy that protects drivers and passengers while they’re matched on the app.
• Lyft’s $1M coverage vastly outpaces that of a Memphis taxi, which is only required to carry a $50K combined single limit policy. Lyft’s coverage is 20 times greater than a Memphis taxi.
• This excess liability policy was specially designed to drop down to the first dollar in the event a driver’s personal policy isn’t collectible.
• Lyft also provides uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage up to $1,000,000.

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