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4 Rideshare Drivers Cited Over The Weekend

Updated: Tuesday, June 3 2014, 03:12 PM CDT

The City of Austin is cracking down on drivers working for peer-to-peer rideshare companies.

Lyft launched its service late last week. Most drivers can be identified by the pink fluffy mustache slapped on the front of their car.

"Everybody that picks up gets a fist pump," said Kristal Braley who works for the company.

Braley spoke to KEYE TV when Lyft first started. She confirmed they only seek donations. 

"We can't force you to pay, we can't actually charge you," said Braley.

But the Austin Transportation Department and Austin Police Department say it is still illegal. That's why they are on the lookout seven days a week.

"We find many of the vehicles are loaded with many more people than the vehicle is designed for," said APD Lt. Christian Malanka.

This weekend four people found out the hard way that these rideshare services are not allowed.

"They cited three Lyft operators," said City of Austin transportation director Gordon Derr.

Authorities impound two vehicles and cited a third driver. The fourth was not associated with Lyft but cited and towed as well.

Derr says companies like Lyft are acting like this is the Wild West.

"The drivers and companies we regulate, we have background checks we make sure the vehicles are safe. We make sure there is the appropriate insurance," Derr said.

Lyft still claims it is operating within the city code.

A spokesperson released this statement:

"Regrettably, 3 drivers received citations and 2 cars were impounded due to a City of Austin sting operation that took place in downtown Austin near the Four Seasons Hotel. We responded immediately to provide support and we are also covering the cost of impound fees and any necessary legal assistance. We’re always committed to supporting the Lyft community, especially as we work through challenges at the city levels to help leaders better understand this unique model and the benefit it brings to Austin.

Lyft firmly believes our platform is operating legally, as Austin's transportation code does not contemplate our peer-to-peer model.

In at least one of the cases, staff purposely left cash behind in an effort to entrap a driver. As a reminder, no cash is exchanged as part of the Lyft platform and free ride credits are currently being used for all Lyft rides.

With that backing Braley says she will continue to drive.

"Obviously nothing is full proof, but Lyft does what they can to protect the riders and drivers," she says.

The City of Austin is working on a six-month stakeholder process to allow rideshare services. Until that is finalized any unpermitted drivers face up to $500 in fines and could be towed.

By Christie Post

4 Rideshare Drivers Cited Over The Weekend

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