Judge Says Lyft Must Stop in St. Louis; Lyft Calls Restraining Order "Bullying and Intimidation"

Apr 22, 2014 at 7:00 am

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click to enlarge Lyft's famous pink 'stache. - lizasperling on flickr
lizasperling on flickr
Lyft's famous pink 'stache.

For both Lyft and the taxi commission, the issue all comes down to safety. Billings says letting Lyft run in St. Louis is like "flying an airplane without the FAA," but Thelen points to the company's strict background checks and $1 million insurance policy as proof that Lyft doesn't need oversight to be safe.

See also: Lyft Never Told New Drivers It's Technically Illegal, Not Licensed in St. Louis

How do Lyft's safety guidelines fit with St. Louis' rules for taxis? Lyft explains in this helpful chart:

Lyft Safety Chart

Thelen says Lyft's safety screening is "far more strict than what taxis provide," including background checks for violent crimes, sex offenses, property damage and theft. Passengers can also see photos of their driver and car before they arrive and verify their driver's identity on Facebook.

"There is accountability within the app," such as a five-star rating system and a 24/7 hotline, Thelen tells Daily RFT.

Billings rejects Lyft's safety claims, saying one of the three Lyft drivers cited over the weekend was arrested on a felony warrant.

"They are doing nothing to protect the traveling public," Billings says. "They are not checking backgrounds. They are not insured."

Lyft calls its $1 million insurance policy a first-of-its-kind solution, but Billings and Bob Oldani, the deputy director at the taxi commission, say drivers are still subject to personal insurance plans, which don't cover commercial driving.

Lyft has said all along it is open to working with officials, including providing evidence of the company's insurance policy, but so far, Lyft hasn't made its case to the commission.

"The taxicab commission has heard nothing from Lyft," Billings says. "If they had that insurance, don't you think they would have brought it to us?"

Lyft has two choices, Billings says: Get a license or follow the judge's ruling and shut down.

"Our office is on Delmar," he says as an invitation to Lyft. "We know where we are."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].