City officials plan on new ordinances regarding ride sharing programs

Posted at 10:13 PM, May 28, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City is cracking down on two new ride sharing companies in town, Lyft and Uber.

In the next couple of months, they plan to come out with new ordinances that would require the businesses to adhere to city regulations.

“It’s got to be a level playing field, and right now it is not. Absolutely, it is not,” said Ken Olsen, President of the Ute Cab Company.

Olsen’s taxi service has been operating in Salt Lake for decades. While he doesn’t mind the added competition, he wants to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules.

“These people are just operating illegally,” Olsen said. “You don’t know who’s picking you up. They’re not licensed. They don’t have the proper insurance. I guess what’s really upsetting about the whole thing is Salt Lake City is willingly and knowingly, that they’re illegally operating, allowing them to do so.”

But the city does plan to take action with new laws in the near future. They’re just not quite sure what they’ll look like yet.

“That’s exactly what we’re working on right now is figuring out what’s the best regulatory regime to enable people to get a ground transportation license, but do so in a way that isn’t overly burdensome to them,” said David Everitt, Chief of Staff for the Mayor’s office.

Currently, to get a license to operate in the city, cab drivers must undergo a TSA background check, provide proof of insurance and undergo a vehicle inspection--among many other things. While Lyft and Uber place similar requirements on their drivers, the city has no proof of it.

“We’d be talking about an insurance requirement of some kind, as well as vehicle standards that would need to be met,” Everitt said.

In separate statements to FOX 13 News, company officials with both Lyft and Uber said they’re eager to work with the city on the issue, but also believe they have secure measures in place, as it is.

“Lyft's rigorous safety measures far exceed what is required of existing providers and residents have enthusiastically welcomed Lyft's peer-to-peer model for safe and affordable rides,” said Chelsea Wilson, a spokeswoman for Lyft.

While the city drafts its new policies, drivers for the companies intend to continue servicing customers in the area.

“I can see why they’d be upset. But at the same time, I think it’s going to make them better because it’s so difficult to get a cab sometimes. And I’ve gotten cabs downtown, it’s not easy,” said one driver for Uber, who asked that his name not be used.

City officials have issued dozens of warnings to drivers, informing them they’re currently violating city regulations.

However, many are hoping those will subside, in lieu of the pending reforms to city law.

“This is a good thing. It will create a new market because it’s so much more simple,” the driver for Uber said.