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May 20, 2014

Lyft continues to provide rides after court process slows down

No hearing date has been set yet in Kansas City’s attempt to make the Lyft ride-sharing service comply with the rules now governing regular taxicab service.

The Lyft ride-sharing service continues to operate a week after a legal move tripped up Kansas City’s effort to quickly get a court order blocking the company from operating until it complied with city cab regulations.

The city’s attempt to get that temporary restraining order was slowed when the case was moved from state to federal court on the same day the hearing was to have occurred in Jackson County Circuit Court.

As of Tuesday, no hearing had been set. Lawyers have until mid-June to meet for preliminary hearing preparations, according to court documents.

Lyft began operations in Kansas City in late April, saying it was exempt from city regulations governing taxicab services. City officials disagreed and began issuing tickets to Lyft drivers.

The city had hoped to get a temporary restraining order last week in Jackson County Circuit Court. That might have halted Lyft’s operations until an agreement could be reached between the city and the company.

But Lyft’s request to move the case to U.S. District Court restarted the clock.

“Not a thing has change since last week,” city spokesman Chris Hernandez said.

The city continues to insist that Lyft is operating illegally because its drivers haven’t gone through the same screening and certification process as regular taxi drivers. Nor have they paid the required license fees.

The company says it should not be subject to city regulations because customers are asked to pay suggested donations rather than a set cab fare. Lyft further counters that its drivers are subject to rigorous background checks and that their vehicles must pass inspections have ample liability insurance.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738, or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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