Carmel, St. Louis' Only Legal Car Service App, to Lyft: "Stop Crying and Start Complying"

carmelssmile.png
Carmel via Facebook
Carmel Car and Limo wants Lyft to stop complaining.
For weeks now, conversations about the rise of the ride-hailing apps, specifically Lyft and Uber, have dominated the news and social-media conversations in St. Louis.

But few seem to remember St. Louis' original ride app, Carmel, which went live in March with none of the fanfare or drama of its competitors.

See also: How to Use Carmel, St. Louis' First Smartphone-Based Car Service

Sick of being ignored in the media scrum after Lyft's launch, Carmel is fighting back with a simple message to Lyft: Follow the rules because bullying gets you nowhere.

"We don't understand what they're whining about," says Carmel's CEO Avik Kabessa of his app-based competition. "They should stop crying and start complying. Carmel has been able to operate legally in St. Louis and work within the system without the benefit of millions of venture-capital dollars, so there is no reason these heavily funded, unlicensed apps cannot do the same."

See also: Taxis, Beware: St. Louis to Get First App-Based Car Service, Carmel

Lyft is just trying to confuse riders, Kabessa says, by pretending there's no way to fit Lyft's peer-to-peer, ride-sharing, collaborative economic model into a legal license. Carmel's product may be a little different -- it charges fares instead of Lyft's "donations" and doesn't verify drivers' and passengers' identities using Facebook, for example. But thousands of people have already downloaded and used Carmel's app to get a ride around the city, the company says.

carmelapp.png
Carmel
Carmel's smartphone app.
"Our industry-leading, 30-year track record of compliance and our willingness to play by the rules is why the MTC granted Carmel a license to bring our app-based car service to the riding public of St. Louis city and county," Kabessa says.

That's not to say Carmel's relationship with the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, which regulates car-for-hire services in St. Louis city and county, hasn't hit some roadblocks of its own.

Per the taxi commission's rules, a Carmel car can't pick up a passenger who orders a car for a pickup time less than an hour away. They call it the "minimum time" rule, designed to give taxis first pick at ready-to-go traffic and reserve planned trips for black-car services.

But the minimum-time rule makes business harder for app-based businesses like Carmel, which wants to be available to any passenger at the press of a finger. In March alone, the company lost more than 11,800 calls because of the "minimum time" rule.

"But from Carmel's perspective, the solution is to work with the taxi commission to improve the rule -- not to first break the rule and then look to amend it, a frequent tactic used by some unlicensed apps," Kabessa says. "Carmel is confident the taxi commission will react correctly with regards to the 'minimum time' issue in due time and sees no reason to ever bully them into it."

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


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28 comments
Paul Deal
Paul Deal

Used it once and overpaid for the taxi it sent. Never again.

jkurow1
jkurow1

Carmel is actually worse than the taxi companies. Where the taxi companies won't answer their phones or won't tell you how long it will take to pick you up; Carmel will actually call you and tell you they are not going to give you a ride after you request one through their app.

jkurow1
jkurow1

Unless the taxi company remains protected behind the city of St. Louis, all they have to do to compete is set up an app that gives its customers an estimated time of arrival. That's it! With one simple change they would receive so much more business and not have to worry about ride-sharing companies.  Wake up!


RJ Alexander
RJ Alexander

Don't ask a friend to take you to airport they will targeted by mob police and ticketed..

Jeep Naaked
Jeep Naaked

read the article Tony... That is the point.. They can't pick up right away, they have that wait period

Rachel Province
Rachel Province

Carmel's app also has several bugs and costs $57 for 12 miles.

Tony Richards
Tony Richards

I called Carmel and the representative lacked any command of the English language. Thankfully I speak call center enough to find out they're pretty expensive and not available for reasonably last minute bookings.

ryanbrockschmitt
ryanbrockschmitt

Carmel drivers are existing St. Louis cab drivers and that's how they are able to operate with the "Dispatch License" from what I understand. 


Part of the reason St. Louisans want Lyft so bad is because they are fed up with the current taxi system and a good portion of its drivers.

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

Ever hailed a cab from the street in StL? O yea, you can't.

Jason M Parker
Jason M Parker

Owner of Pasta House Kim Tucci is on the board of MTC so maybe we should boycott the restaurants

raccoozie
raccoozie

This just proves that the MTC is out to protect existing cab companies and not the customers. Why not remove the minimum time rule and allow Carmel to compete on the same terms. 

This is probably one of the terms that Uber is working to change as well before they launch here.

Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson

Are those rules created by other grocery stores? That is why

Laura Heying
Laura Heying

They have to be trained and registered drivers. You can't just put a mustache on your car and pick people up. Do your research.

Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson

The Crony Taxi-Commission should be disbanded. If there was a Grocery Store commission comprised of Grocery store owners who can deny allowing any new competition against themselves to enter the market there would be outrage.

ocean_breeze
ocean_breeze

California-based ride-sharing cartel first break laws, then pays for hired

social media support, then pays for hired actors to show up with ridiculous

"save <ride-sharing fraud flavor of the day name>" signs.

Then they pay for naïve reporters and bloggers to post articles supporting

their supposed "innovation".


In reality - this whole ride-sharing model is a FRAUD aiming destruction of

millions of small businesses, aiming destruction of city revenues (with

ride-sharing in place cities have no ability to regulate and control its own public transportation services, as absurd as it sounds - that's exactly what it is), all that destruction - for the sake of 2-3 California-based multi-BILLION dollar private corporations. That's the true face or ride-sharing without artificial sugar-coating.

Trent Harvey
Trent Harvey

Glad to see companies like Carmel are taking the low road and siding with the Taxi Commission. #Classy #CarmelIsScared #TeamLyft

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

You can't hail a cab in StL on the street, that's illegal... how wild.

Laura Heying
Laura Heying

I'd say if anyone is bullying it's the taxi commission.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@ryanbrockschmitt The reason anyone thinks they want lyft is because they are hipster douchebags who just want to appear different. Fuck these vapid assclowns.

heleon
heleon

@ocean_breeze  the fraud is on the drivers more than the public really.  They use their own cars, their own phones for dispatch, as I understand it their insurance policy is primary?  And lyft? Monitors and maintain s an app that would probably run on its own, holds seminars, webinars? To hire drivers.  They collect their 25% of every trip and pay the driver 30 days later.  It's the old saying. If you can't beat them with brilliance then baffle them with b.s..  to hide their own activities they slam every city they enter as being corrupted.


LyftFan
LyftFan

you are a complete tool. if you don't understand lyft, why don't you STFU and try it out for once.

ryanbrockschmitt
ryanbrockschmitt

Ahh that explains my habit of only buying jeans that are skinny.. . 

LyftFan
LyftFan

Um this is totally wrong. Get your facts straight before spewing your hate filled rants with complete un-educated nonsense. They get paid weekly, direct deposit, and they don't take 25%. If you want to get into a dirty, old, run down taxi, where the driver is always rude and violates traffic laws at every turn, such as speeding, running red lights/stop signs and failure to yield, be my guest.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@LyftFan you are a complete load. people like you would buy a bag of shit if the price was cheap and you could buy it on a phone app.

heleon
heleon

@LyftFan hate spew???  complete un-educated nonsense?  the only info I have is the news and they said 30 days and 25%.  so what about the rest of the issues?  how much do they really get then?  why are you so mad, are you driving for them?

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