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.

My Voice Nation Help
21 comments
UberLyfter
UberLyfter

Spell check functions should be offered for free to reporters....

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

UberTaxiDriverFL
UberTaxiDriverFL

@ogdenla192

yeah, right !!!!! WELCOME TO BANGLADESH and help corporate terrorists like Uber, breaking the laws, stealing from own drivers and countless comunities

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?

UberTaxiDriverFL
UberTaxiDriverFL

don't blame taxi companies, you just simply want to spend less on your transportation needs..........can not blame you for that

............but you should know, UBER is a corporate terrorist company with their practices and operations.....


UberTaxiDriverFL
UberTaxiDriverFL

@ogdenla192 @stv1506

"Maybe we should kick all private citizens off the highway and only let taxis operate according to this logic?"


EXACTLY !!! at least taxis are operating legally, drivers are driving company cabs and they have guarantee on rates at $2.40  /mile and $0.50 a minute waiting time

With uber, you are subject to crazy ideas of Uber, like lowering rates from $1.5  a mile down to $1.20 and $0.13 a minute waiting time, NOT TO MENTION, THAT YOU ARE WASTING YOUR OWN CAR AND YOU OPERATE ILLEGALLY 

Welcome to Bangladesh uber supporters and I wish you, your job is transferred to Angola tomorrow morning

stv1506
stv1506

Regular drivers are not driving commercially like Uber and Lyft so they have no need to get commercial insurance. Your logic is not logic. Personal insurance is not commercial insurance and a passenger who is paying is not covered and it is illegal to have 2 forms of auto insurance on one vehicle. Lyft and Uber do not have licensed mechanics who inspect their cars. Some regular guy who is not knowledgeable comes out and says the car looks good so OK we let you drive for Lyft. Uber doesn't even do that. Limo and Taxi drivers vehicles have to be inspected yearly and if they don't pass then they lose their licence. So until they abide by those rules they are not protecting the public. You can yell and scream all you want about taxis but a taxi is accountable in case of accidents and insurance these guys are not.

stv1506
stv1506

That is not my point. Lyft nor Uber have mechanics to regulate and make sure the car is safe. To say Lyft does is ridiculous. So someone comes out with Uber who is not a licensed mechanic and looks at their vehicle and says everything is OK! That isn't gonna fly. They need to have licensed mechanic who inspects the vehicles like limo and taxi companies do. They are regulated by the city and have licwnced mechanics who are very thorough with inspections. Let Uber and Lyft do that. If they regulate their own cars its not a third party. Who is gonna fail? You say the drivers use their own insurance. That is also not good enough. You have to have commercial insurance in order for your hired passenger to be covered unless you lie and say he's a cousin. Lying also leads to mistrust!! If they are willing to do these things and also have their own fleet of accessible vehicles for passenger then I welcome them. That won't happen because our Mayor is on Uber's payroll!!

stv1506
stv1506

Secondly at the city council meeting with Uber and Lyft drivers admitted having regular insurance not commercial insurance. So if your Lyft driver gets in an accident and your injured they better lie about who they were driving otherwise your in for a big bill from the hospital. Let them abide by city regulations like cabs and limousine services have to abide by because they are making money and driving commercially not privately. If a driver makes money its commercial. Don't tell me the do it on a donation status cuz that's a big lie. Had is 3:40 a gallon not free!

Of they are willing to pay city fees to be licensed, get commercial insurance like all other for hire companies then I invite them. If not then they should stay illegal. Right now anyone who takes Uber or Lyft supports an Illegal service. They will be approved regardless because Uber is a 17.5 billion dollar company and they are genwrous. Our problem is we pay the city fees Uber puts money in the Mayors fat pocket!!

stv1506
stv1506

No you are misinformed. Regular insurance does not cover passengers. You have to have commercial insurance which they do not. If they wish to operate as a car service then they need to be regulated and play fair. Saying take everybody off the street is ignorant. I'm speaking of hired service. Let them pay the fees and get commercial insurance to cover their clients. They are illegal in the city of Houston and until they become legal it is ignorant for anyone to ride with them. Your logic is not logic.

ogdenla192
ogdenla192

@UberTaxiDriverFL @ogdenla192 @stv1506  Sounds like you guys are mad that Uber and Lyft provide a better service for a cheaper price.  I call a rideshare and get picked up within 5 minutes, I call a legacy taxi and I'll probably wait an hour or two and there's no guarantee they'll even show up.  Better service, lower price = bottom line.  

ogdenla192
ogdenla192

@UberTaxiDriverFL @stv1506 I also think it's funny that Houston seems to be the only city full of people up in arms about rideshares.  Most other cities love and embrace it.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...