Ridesharing cars not welcome at SFO

April 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's one of the new innovative ways to get a ride around San Francisco, but these so-called ridesharing businesses are getting the brush-off from San Francisco International Airport -- at least until SFO can figure out a way to regulate them.

There is a little battle going on involving the airport, cab drivers and those new ridesharing businesses. Their fares are said to be lower than a taxi ride, but SFO wants these rideshare businesses to hit the road until they have proper permits.

You've probably those cars with the fuzzy pink moustaches around San Francisco. They're part of a business called Lyft, one of several independent ride sharing companies around town. One place they're not welcome is SFO which sent cease and desist orders to six ride share businesses. Cabbies don't care for those competitors either.

"We're leasing out medallions through the company and we have to pay a certain amount of money and these guys are just coming into the city. They're not paying the amount we have to go through," said Nick Singh, a cab driver.

The way it works is Lyft approves independent drivers who use their own cars to ferry passengers around. Riders use a smart phone app to hook up, paying a so-called "donation by credit card." Regardless, SFO says these cars don't have the proper permits to operate at the airport.

"We reached out to them right away and we're working together with them to come to an interim agreement. We did the same thing with the state PUC in California where we're operating 100 percent legally and we look forward to doing the same with SFO," said John Zimmer, a Lyft co-founder.

Zimmer maintains Lyft drivers can go to the airport.

"I do get a lot of very snarly looks from cab drivers and sometimes they try to take the lift," said Suzanne Ingalsbe, a Lyft driver.

SFO says the ridesharing cars should stay away.

"If any operator were to continue attempting to do business without a permit, the risk that they would run is to be in a state of unlawful trespass," said Doug Yakel, the SFO spokesman.

The airport says once those interim permits with the PUC are finalized, then SFO can begin its permitting process to allow the rideshare cars. That process is expected to take several months.

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