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As Lyft Fights Back in St. Louis, Rival App Uber Gets Support from Mayor Slay

Categories: Bidness

lyftstache.jpg
Raido Kaldma on Flickr
Lyft's rival, Uber, also has its eyes on St. Louis.
Mayor Francis Slay says he's urging the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission to accept proposed changes that would allow Uber, a ride-sharing app like Lyft or Carmel, to go live in St. Louis.

Uber's rival Lyft launched in St. Louis a week ago, despite not obtaining licensing from the taxi commission. Three drivers have been cited for illegally operating a ride-for-hire service, and a judge granted a temporary restraining order against the company soon thereafter.

"[Uber] has led me to believe that if those changes were made, it would abide by the other 80 pages of regulations and would seek certification from the commission," Slay posts on Facebook. "Time will tell if Lyft ultimately opts to follow its larger competitor's useful example."

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

John Zimmer, cofounder of Lyft, sent the app's users explaining the company's legal troubles in St. Louis.

"As pioneers of peer-to-peer transportation, we are revolutionizing how people get around and connect with their neighbors," Zimmer says. "But change raises challenges from those who want to preserve the status quo."

The letter deftly avoids the question of whether Lyft drivers are still working in St. Louis, but ever since the injunction started, fewer and fewer drivers have been active on the app.

lyftciteworking.JPG
Lindsay Toler
The first Lyft driver is cited in St. Louis.
"We are pursuing all legal avenues to defend Lyft and our community members, and will keep working with city officials to find a solution that puts the interests of the people of St. Louis first."

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

Cara Spencer, who operates Nebula coworking space on Cherokee Street, started an online petition asking city officials to support ridesharing, including Lyft, which runs local operations out of Nebula. The petition has more than 1,500 signatures.

"The on-call transportation industry changing," Spencer says in the petition. "Now is the time for city leaders to decide if St. Louis will lead or follow."

Spencer tells Daily RFT she launched her petition after seeing so many other Lyft supporters frustrated by the legal roadblocks the company has faced since last Friday.

"The goal is to provide a way to gather support in one place in order to inform our city leaders that many of our citizens support ridesharing," Spencer says.

"Lyft is a great way to leverage technology to connect people, use existing resources more efficiently and provide more consumer choices in transportation."

But Spencer's petition isn't just about making Lyft legal in St. Louis; rather, she says it's about supporting multimodal transportation and regional collaboration.

"I think this is about St. Louis embracing new technologies," Spencer tells Daily RFT. "To be a progressive city, we are going to have to be open to change."

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

Spencer says she has noticed one local politician, Mayor Slay, who is "embracing innovative transportation options." Slay says he's asking the taxi commission to change laws that prevent companies like Uber to operate in St. Louis.

"I support technology, including so-called 'disruptive' technology," Slay says. "I also believe that no matter how sophisticated the technology is, regulations to protect public safety are generally necessary, and should always be enforced. So: We need rules, but they have to be smart."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


Location Info

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Nebula Coworking

3407 S. Jefferson Ave., St Louis, MO

Category: General

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22 comments
David B Fowler
David B Fowler

play by the rules...I'm sure some palms were greased.

Jeffrey Vollmer
Jeffrey Vollmer

Government regulations and fees tend to help create monopolies. Anytime you make it tougher to enter a market you get less competition.

Joseph Sorin Leibu
Joseph Sorin Leibu

the difference is...if I get hurt in a cab, someone is paying my medical bills, if I get hurt in Uber, I'm SOL

Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell

How so? Carmel was approved, and Uber is on it's way. Lyft never reached out to MTC. How can it be a monopoly, if they refuse to participate?

Douglas Dial
Douglas Dial

They're giving 50 free rides around St. Louis($25 value each) until May 3rd. The impossible pub crawl is now possible!

Dale Proctor
Dale Proctor

The monopoly knows they can't operate as one so they are picking and choosing who they want to get past the federal government.

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

I heard a cabbie say on the news that they're taking away high paying jobs. That's a load of crap, I know several cabbies and they have no benefits at all and the cab companies make all the money.

Jason M Parker
Jason M Parker

Thanks. I was wondering why. Maybe the cabs n táxis will hire better drivers

Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell

How is it a monopoly when Carmel has been approved and Uber is on it's way?

Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell

Uber is attempting to work with the local government, instead of ignore it.

Bryon Ramos
Bryon Ramos

Once this plays out, they'll be okay. It's competition and it's the very essence of American capitalism. The Cab companies will need to adjust their business model, but right now they're just jumping up and down crying foul. As long as uber and lyft have to adhere to the same safety regulations, I see no issue.

Dale Picolet
Dale Picolet

Saw two cars in one day near Maplewood just a few days ago.

Jason M Parker
Jason M Parker

France is banning GPS based ride sharing programs now.

Jillian Ashley
Jillian Ashley

Saw one last night at the Fox Theatre. They looked happy as shit!

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