MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis says companies like Uber and Lyft haven’t paid for the necessary permits to operate in the city, but officials are still trying to figure out what they can do to punish them for it.
Mario is an independent contractor for Lyft. He didn’t want to give us his last name, but told us these orders aren’t keeping him from working.
“They told us to keep on driving, nothing is official, nothing legally has happened as of yet,” he said.
The city sent the cease-and-desist orders to 13 companies. Some of them work like cabs, and others are tour bus companies.
The ones we talked to say they have not bought any permits and are still on the road today.
Aubrey Howard is head of the city’s permitting office.
He said, “We are trying to get a comprehensive list to deal with all violators, which is why it appears we are not moving, but I assure you we are moving.”
The problem is the city told these companies to stop operating without knowing what action it can take if a company is caught breaking the rules.
“The law division is looking at what our options are,” Howard told WREG.
News Channel 3 exposed this problem last year with the Blues City Tours bus company. Their lawyers say they pay federal fees and don’t need local permits. The city didn’t agree, but didn’t do anything about it.
Lyft and Uber are now saying the same thing and seeing the same results…for now.
Mario said, “We expect to get our own fees, because I guess that will even the playing field.”
Some companies say this is just the city trying to make money. Howard insists it’s a safety issue.
But drivers like Mario say they’re going to keep driving until their boss says stop, not the city.
“We work for Lyft, Lyft pays us. That’s how it works,” he said.
The city should know its legal options for cracking down on this problem in the next two weeks.