5 Things Cofounder John Zimmer Wants St. Louis to Know About Lyft


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Lindsay Toler
A Lyft driver is cited by police in front of St. Louis City Hall.
So if he's not trying to be difficult, what exactly is Zimmer trying to be? Here are the five main takeaways from Daily RFT's conversation with John Zimmer, the cofounder of Lyft:

No. 1. Lyft is not backing down, even after a judge's order.

A judge has approved a temporary restraining order against Lyft in St. Louis until a hearing on May 6, but Zimmer says he has no plans to tell his drivers to stop picking up passengers.

"While we want to be respectful, we also need to stand up for our community and for our business," Zimmer says.

Zimmer says no one at Lyft knew about the hearing for the injunction until the judge had already granted it. Lyft's legal team met with the judge a few days later, but there was no change in the temporary restraining order.

"We never had notice and ability to defend ourselves," Zimmer says.

Zimmer says Lyft will defend its mission from the judge's restraining order.

"We care a lot about this mission," Zimmer says. "We care a lot about making transportation more community-oriented, more efficient. We have a responsibility to push that forward."

See also: Taxi Driver: Lyft is as Bad for St. Louis Workers as Walmart, Fast Food

No. 2. Zimmer is disappointed that the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission lied about Lyft in court.

As the taxi commission made its case to the judge, Billings, a lawyer for the commission, suggested one of the three Lyft drivers cited for operating illegally was also arrested on a felony warrant -- a claim he repeated to the Riverfront Times and St. Louis Business Journal.

As it turns out, the claim was false. Police told KMOX that no Lyft drivers had any outstanding warrants.

"It's disappointing," says Zimmer. "When people say things that aren't true, that's exactly why we want to make sure the message about what we do do is out there. There are people who don't want these solutions to be around and available to people in St. Louis."

Billings told KMOX he was given inaccurate information about an arrest by a source he would not identify.

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

"We are truly saddened that the court issued a temporary restraining order against Lyft after Mr. Billings made his false and reckless statements," says Erin Simpson, Lyft's director of communications. "We are currently exploring all legal options and we will, as always, continue to stand up for our wonderful driver community and the interests of the people of St. Louis who have so enthusiastically embraced Lyft."

No. 3. Zimmer thinks Lyft leads the industry in safety standards.

Zimmer says he's proud of the safety standards his company has developed to protect drivers, passengers and anyone traveling around them.

"We're protecting consumers more than they are being protected by current industries," Zimmer says. "It's important that our whole industry follows the safety standards we already do."

Lyft Safety Chart

Lyft calls its $1 million excess liability insurance plan a "first-of-its-kind" solution. The policy covers driver liability for bodily injury and/or property damage of passengers and/or third parties from the time a driver accepts a ride request until the ride is ended in the app.

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

Lyft's $1 million liability coverage and three other policies are supposed to cover drivers while they're working since their personal insurance policies don't apply to commercial uses.

Lyft also claims its background checks are more extensive -- looking for more types of crimes further back in time -- than the taxicab commission's standards.
"It's important that our whole industry follows the same safety standards we already do," Zimmer says. "The fact is, we do more, and we want to make sure people know that. We achieve a higher degree of safety."

What does Zimmer think of Uber moving into town with the mayor's support? Find out on the next page.



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