SLC Council votes to regulate rideshare services

Posted at 9:37 PM, Nov 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-25 23:37:33-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The future of two popular rideshare services in Salt Lake City is unclear after a City Council vote Tuesday night.

The council unanimously passed new amendments to its ground transportation law -- something Lyft and Uber have said would prompt them to leave the city.

Under new rules, drivers with Transportation Network Companies, or rideshare services, must undergo city-mandated background checks and vehicle inspections.

Lyft and Uber argued that they already require both through their own systems, however, the council countered that the city has an obligation to ensure public safety.

“It’s fair to say that this is a work in progress. I like to say this is the end of the beginning of this evolution of how we regulate ground transportation in Salt Lake City and we’re going to keep working at it,” said David Everitt, Chief of Staff for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.

While the companies had threatened to close their businesses in Salt Lake if the regulations were approved, it was unclear what they planned to do Tuesday night.

Michael Amodeo, a spokesman for Uber, criticized the city’s approach.

“If the Council's intention was to welcome ridesharing into Salt Lake City, these regulations clearly miss the mark,” Amodeo said in a statement. “Instead of standing on the side of thousands of Utahns who are choosing Uber to start their own small business and access safe, reliable rides, the Council is attempting to fit a square peg in a round hole by passing outdated regulations that fail to recognize the unique nature of ridesharing. “

Some drivers in attendance at the meeting vowed to continue working in the city, regardless of the new rules. Violating the terms comes with hefty fines, totally approximately $6,000.

“It’s a work in progress. It’s a work in progress, so we've just got more work to do. And so, hopefully we can work it out,” said Angie Palmer, a driver and spokeswoman for Lyft.