How can ride-app outfits like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar operate in a town with strict rules about how and where taxis can do business?
It’s a question we’ve been asking here at L.A. Weekly world headquarters. And Los Angeles Department of Transportation taxicab administrator Thomas Drischler this week came up with an answer.
Namely, they can’t:
In a cease-and-desist letter sent to those three companies, Drischler accused them of …
… operating an unlicensed, for-profit commercial transportation service in the City of Los Angeles. In the interest of public safety, Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are hereby directed to cease and desist from picking up passengers within the City of Los Angeles.
Of course, Lyft, for one, calls what it does “on-demand ridesharing.” Sidecar has a similar business plan; Uber appears to be a straight-up car and taxi service.
The LADOT seems to be arguing that Lyft and Sidecar allow anyone to become an instant cabbie without having to adhere by the city’s strict regulations on cabs. (Drivers can sign up to give rides in exchange for cash.)