By Justin Finch
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Days before Lyft’s scheduled launch for Friday in Philadelphia, some already knew about the ride sharing service.
“It’s just an alternative to Uber,” explained Derek Lundsten while waiting for a train at 30th Street Station. “I think it’s supposed to be a bit more fun, a little more youth-oriented. That’s the impression I get. I know the glow-stick mustache.”
That pink mustache stands atop the dashboards of Lyft drivers, and are a hallmark of the San Francisco-based company.
Lyft links drivers to riders through it’s cell phone app, which culls a profile photo and data from users’ Facebook accounts. With that information, each party can see the other and know who they are interacting with; but in terms of safety, the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s leadership is concerned that seeing the other party may not be enough.
“We don’t know who they are,” said Vincent Fenerty, executive director of the PPA. “Every bus driver, every cab driver, every limousine driver in Pennsylvania is vetted by an enforcement agency — a regulatory agency — and [Lyft drivers] are not.”
Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson disagrees. She told CBS 3 Eyewitness News that Lyft drivers are given thorough criminal background and driving record checks.
Wilson said all drivers must be at least 21, have valid car insurance, and must have vehicles that pass the Lyft’s safety inspection standards since, drivers use their own vehicles. The company said it will even provide additional insurance to its drivers.
Though Lyft has won permission to provisionally operate in Pennsylvania, the PPA says Lyft does not have license to operate on Philadelphia. Because the service is not regulated by the PPA, which would effect Lyft’s fare scale and other policies, the parking authority has deemed the service illegal.
“We will be doing everything in our power to stop them. We will try to locate the vehicles, we will find the drivers, and we will confiscate the vehicles,” said Fenerty.
Drivers would be subject to having their cars impounded, fines of at least $1000, court costs, and other expenses.
Lyft said it will assist drivers who may become subject to those penalties.
Lyft currently operates in Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, and other several major US cities.