Lyft to leave November 20

So long.


Lyft plans to suspend its Houston operations on Nov. 20, according to a letter sent to Houston Lyft users.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service is upset over the new regulations approved by the Houston City Council in August. Those regulations include requiring drivers to have background checks and required medical exams, and installing fire extinguishers in Lyft cars, according to the letter.

“You have spoken up and shown your support at last week’s City Council hearing, along with thousands of other Houston residents,” the letter said. “In spite of this, city officials have moved forward with the most onerous ridesharing requirements to date that essentially treat Lyft like a taxi.”

It goes on to say that the the regulations make it difficult for part-time drivers of the Lyft system, which make up a large portion of the network, to operate and still make money.

See here for the background. Permits for rideshare/TNCs started being issued on Tuesday. For their part, Uber is going gangbusters.


As of Thursday evening, the city had issued 63 provisional permits to drivers, authorizing them to carry riders legally for the first time. The provisional permits are good for 30 days, giving drivers and the companies that connect them with riders time to comply with the new rules.

Drivers are working through a checklist that includes a municipal court check for outstanding warrants, background check and various requirements for the vehicles.

More than 200 requests for warrant checks have been received in the past week at municipal court, said Lara Cottingham, deputy assistant director of the city’s regulatory affairs department.

“I wasn’t crazy about paying $20 for a warrant check when I already had a background check, but I got it done,” Rice said.

Rice said it cost him about $160 to comply with the drug screenings, paperwork and vehicle inspections. The company isn’t covering the cost because the drivers technically are independent contractors.

City officials, to smooth things along, are using the Kashmere Multi-Service Center in northeast Houston as a one-stop shop for permits. Inspectors can verify vehicles in the parking lot while others check the paperwork necessary under the city’s rules, approved in August. Even the private company that provides the fingerprint-based checks required by the city – the state’s official background company – brought staff to Kashmere to handle requests, Cottingham said.

I wonder if another company like Sidecar will come in to pick up the slack from Lyft. I still don’t understand why they found the city’s ordinance so much more cumbersome than Uber did, but whatever. Hair Balls has more.

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