Rideshare services threaten to leave SLC over possible change in regulations

Posted at 9:56 PM, Nov 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-18 23:56:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The ridesharing services, Uber and Lyft, are threatening to leave Salt Lake City.

Customers order Uber or Lyft’s services through an app on a smart phone.  But a dispute over how to regulate the rideshare businesses has complicated things between Salt Lake City and the two companies.

After several months in Salt Lake City, both are threatening to leave the area because of proposed amendments to the city's ground transportation laws.

“It’s unfortunate that the rhetoric has gotten to this point," said David Everitt, chief-of-staff for Mayor Ralph Becker.

The amendments would require Uber and Lyft drivers to undergo city-mandated background checks and vehicle inspections.

While the requirements are standard for the licenses, the companies argue they are already mandatory for their drivers, which makes it redundant.

“It’s not about not wanting them here," Everitt said. "It’s about making sure we’re being consistent in how we regulate with other currently established ground transportation service providers."

In response, the Internet Association took out a full page newspaper advertisement on behalf of the companies.

With threats to leave the city if the proposal doesn't change, the ad called the regulations "onerous" and "duplicative."

"We are already heavily regulated. I have to get a background check, car inspection, everything," said Ross Andersen, a part-time driver for Uber.

But not every customer of ride share services agrees with its policies for the drivers, such as Andersen.

"I think they should definitely have to pass a certain criteria with the city to take us around," said Natalie Townsend, who has used Lyft in the past.

The council is expected to vote on the proposal next week. A recent straw poll vote showed they were in favor of the checks and inspections.

If the regulation is passed as is, both companies plan to exit the city before they have to adhere to it.

"Why are you picking on us?" asked Andersen. "In every city they've come into I'm sure the same battle has been fought. Take a look at what's going on there."