CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- These are the names of companies offering “digital dispatching services," around the country, and some in Charlotte.
The General Assembly legalized it this year in North Carolina, and its popularity is drawing concerns from direct competitors and those in the industry.
On Monday, Charlotte City Council members were presented with the preliminary report from its legal team on the need to study the potential impact of this budding “digital dispatching” industry.
San Francisco based, Lyft launched its services in Charlotte three weeks ago. Their drivers are known for having the “pink mustache” on the grills of their vehicles.
Unlike Uber, which dispatches black sedans, and Hailo, which summons yellow cabs, Lyft, UberX and Sidecar are “peer-to-peer” services. The technology allows riders to be matched with common drivers via a GPS enabled mobile device.
Companies like Lyft say participating drivers are carefully screened and insured.
Such companies however, are not held to the same regulations as taxi cab and chauffeur services.
Rules and regulations are set under the Passenger Vehicle for Hire Ordinance. The ordinance regulates fares, licenses and permits, along with background checks and vehicle inspection.
Tom Holden of Rose Chauffeured Transportation says the city has two options.
"You have to either concern yourself with safety for passengers in city, or put everybody on the same playing field, or you have to abandon the entire PVH system, and we all do what we want to," he said.
Mayur Khandelwal operates Crown Cab in Charlotte.
He says over the years, the cab industry has gone out of its way to comply with every regulation set forward. It is only fair he says, that companies offering similar services be asked to do the same.
“The concern becomes if there is a second group of people, a shadow industry, and it becomes frustrating. The other side doesn’t have to do that and it becomes difficult to co-exist,” he said.
Council member Andy Dulin's position is in a “tough middle.”
“I really like the free-market. I like that,” he said.
“We got to figure out how to level that playing field and not stifle creative thinking.”
A Lyft representative was present during the council workshop to answer any questions. Questions included whether the “donations” offered to drivers are reported to IRS. He said “donations” are not considered “charitable” donations, but “discretionary,” and are subject to taxes.
The matter has been referred to the Community Safety Committee for further discussion.
Due to the upcoming elections in November, it is more than likely the issue will not be addressed until a new council is seated.