City threatening fines, arrests for Uber and Lyft drivers caught on the road

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The laws don’t scare them, and Uber and Lyft drivers tell WREG they are staying on the road.

The city said it is issuing cease and desist order on rideshare companies.

Taxi companies say the city needs to back up their threat with action.

Ham Smythe said, “It is a violation of the law. And either the laws mean something, or they don’t.”

Smythe owns the Yellow and Checkered Cab Company.

His drivers are losing hundreds of dollars a day competing with these car services,  but he says the competition isn’t the problem.

Smythe said it’s the unfair playing field that is the problem.

Taxis have to pay for permits, and get detailed background checks.

He told us rideshare companies need to go through the same process.

Because rideshare customers are making a donation rather than paying a fee, they say they do not have to follow the same rules.

Aubrey Howard is the head of the Memphis Permits department, “We are not attempting to curtail commerce. What we want is if they are going to do business here they have to follow the rules.”

Howard says if the companies are willing to pay the cost of permits and car inspections, they are welcome to stay.

Until that happens, he said the city is planning to send Memphis police officers after rideshare drivers, “We think sending out a task force will make these companies move a little faster.”

Howard says the main focus is passenger safety.

The city needs to know the people driving these cars can pass a background test with the FBI and pay the permit fees to be on the road.

Smythe says these companies are being arrogant and cheap, and their actions are speak volumes, “We are glad the city is finally doing it’s job, but we’ll see.”

All in all, the permitting process costs the driver about $200.

The company would pay for annual car inspections.

Howard says many of the companies require this already, they just need to submit the paperwork to the city to prove it.

Howard admits evolving industries like this require evolving laws.

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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