The city of Tulsa may begin to regulate controversial tech-based rideshare services. The ordinance would require app-based companies like Uber and Lyft to be certified by the city and pay fees like taxi drivers.
It's a hot topic nationwide and some council members said it all boils down to the safety of Tulsans.
Much of the discussion involved if rideshares are social services or new taxis trying to get around city rules and regulations.
Rideshare services are cropping up across Tulsa, and Tom Moldin of Green Cab Company said the apps are bad for cab companies and wants the city to step in and regulate.
"Picking people up, dropping them off going to another location, that’s not ride share, they get paid, that's commercial," Moldin said.
He said commercial drivers have to follow city regulations that rideshares don't.
“Right now Uber has nobody they have to answer to; they can do whatever they want to do. There are some Lyft cars that are wrecked that are still running. Every year we get our cars inspected," Moldin said.
The city council ordinance says rideshares are a self-regulatory business but they should be accountable to the city.
City Councilor, Blake Ewing, said, “These companies are a social platform connecting someone who needs a ride to someone who has a car."
I downloaded the Lyft app to give it a try, and within five minutes, a driver, Nathan, in an unmarked Saab came to the station.
Nathan explained that Lyft markets itself as friends who give rides.
“It seems to me that the people that I’ve been giving rides to are people who don’t usually take taxis,” he said.
I told Nathan up front why I wanted the ride since I couldn’t get a spokesperson on the phone. My first concern was safety.
"Lyft has a million dollar insurance policy that applies to any of its drivers so there is a very good insurance policy, God forbid something were to happen, that would cover both of us," Nathan said.
Thursday, city councilors discussed confirming background checks and insurance. Nathan said anyone who gets a Lyft can trust the driver has been checked, and trained.
“The things that they want you to do, as far as to present yourself like a Lyft employee, and the things that you should know,” he said.
Thursday's discussion on proposed regulations was the first time councilors talked about the rideshare services.
Several taxi cab drivers showed up for the meeting, but the council will hear their concerns at another meeting.