Taxi Owner Goes Undercover, Files Papers Against Lyft and Uber

Categories: Ridin' Dirty

LyftCar.jpeg
Photo by Alfredo Mendez
Remember, this is what a Lyft car looks like.
Citations seem to be part of doing business, and breaking into a new market, for the app-based ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft. They're finding out that elbowing their way into Houston's livery space for the past month doesn't come cheap. (Remember, Lyft is the one with the pink mustache on the grill, and Uber is the other one.)

Neither organization is allowed to operate like it wants to in this city, just yet. There's this little thing called Chapter 46 and an amendment to for-hire requirements that's working its way through city council. An Uber spokesperson tells us that they're looking to eliminate a 30-minute wait requirement, as well as a minimum fair requirement for catching rides. Right now, both services operate without charging riders. But that might not really be the case according to testimony heard in city hall.

The issue came up at yesterday's council meeting and Mayor Annise Parker said that undercover Houston police sting operations have resulted in 26 citations for Uber and Lyft drivers. They were likely, misdemeanor violations for operating an illegal taxi.

See this: Houston Threatens Uber With Some Legalese Over Email Campaign

The mayor's remark was in reply to testimony from Duane Kamins, a partner, along with his brothers in Houston's second largest cab company, Houston Transportation Services. He's also a lawyer and filed an affidavit with the state revealing his findings during his own undercover operation where he was charged some dollars for trips to the pharmacy and thereabouts.

"We clearly have two rogue operators in the city of houston today, uber and lyft who are operating in clear violation of Chapeter 46 of the [city] code," he said.

In his affidavit, which you can view below, Kamins describes getting charged $4.70 for a short trip from an Uber driver with the handle Abdessamad. He also details a $13 trip with Lyft driver Ballagio. And later, a $12 trip with a Lyft driver named Sebastian whom he knocks for relying too much on his GPS to get around.

Kamins, who obviously has a major stake in not wanting to add more competition to the local cabbie game, asked the council to take action against the companies. His beef is that someone is getting compensated for provided commercial transportation services on city streets.

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11 comments
ogdenla192
ogdenla192

Lyft and Uber are amazing services and I hope they flourish in Houston.  I've used them in other cities.  The old-fashioned taxi companies in Houston are problematic, overpriced, and have a monopoly on the market.  Come on H-town, you want to be this wonderful city everyone says it is, get out of the stone age and on board with fresh new ideas like this!

trunkmonkey59
trunkmonkey59

Lyft and Uber provide a safe alternative to getting around town...Most people driving have other jobs and do this on their spare time.  All of my drivers have been nice genuine people who enjoy engaging in conversation.  One could not pay a lyfter or uberer(?) because it is run on donations.  Honestly, I feel safer being in a lyft car than a taxi.  Also, most taxis I've been in don't speak English very well and drive extremely slow so the fare can go up.  All of my Lyft drivers drive at a safe, yet normal pace.  


Houston needs to get with the times and evolve with the demanding market.  Fighting this change will only anger Houstonians because we found a safe alternative to getting around town that's friendly and convenient.  If my friends weren't busy working, I would call one of them up and pay them through QuickPay for taking me somewhere.  Maybe we should add all our drivers on Facebook so we can exhibit this friendly relationship.


All-in-all, this is going to happen sooner or later...and when it does, SOME current taxi drivers hoping to enter this market won't be able to because of their personalities aren't conducive for friendly, hospitable business.

stv1506
stv1506

Uber and Lyft have been in violation and the drivers are unsure if they are insured or not. They are not because they are driving commercially without being legal. So I hope any of you fools that use them don't get in an accident cuz you will not be covered. The cars are not even inspected by mechanics or the city. I'm sure Uber is making financial contributions to our mayor and a few council members cuz they are still operating.

The comment about the girl in Houston is true. In Miami an Uber driver assaulted a lady and she woke up in his bed not realizing what happened oh and another Uber driver ran over a six year old girl and her mom. The girl died while the mom livres. What did Uber do? Nothing, their response was the driver did not have a passenger so they are not responsible. Yes our cab companies are not the best in the world, but there is accountability.

rbcocacola21
rbcocacola21

I feel it should be pointed out, if someone is charged by lyft, they chose to make a donation after their "free lyfts" expired. It is a donation and he had the option of turning it down to zero but chose to make a donation (arguably the right thing to do).

Gabriel Gomez
Gabriel Gomez

Seriously? Plaguing our city? The idea is brilliant and it works wonderfully. The city is just mad that they can't scheme their way in to it

Roxy Wolfe
Roxy Wolfe

Plaguing our city?? How about that Yellow Cab Driver who sexually assaulted a girl and beat her so badly she had to go to the hospital? Lyft has been a relief for people in Houston who want reliable transportation especially females who need a safe ride home! Michael Grossman

Ian T. Komouss
Ian T. Komouss

Wow, I'm so glad HPD seems to think this is such a pressing concern, as opposed to doing something about the crack pimps manning taxis next the greyhound station.

John D Vrbanac
John D Vrbanac

Hey taxi companies, maybe if you didn't suck at your jobs, we all wouldn't be looking for better options

ogdenla192
ogdenla192

@stv1506 And similar trouble has not happened with taxi operators?  Lyft regulates its own drivers and fires anyone who falls below a 4.5/5 star rating.  The drivers have their own regular auto insurance, I don't get what the difference is between a Lyft driver with a passenger and a regular Joe on the street.  Maybe we should kick all private citizens off the highway and only let taxis operate according to this logic?

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