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Lyft ride-sharing app to launch in Utah

Published: Tuesday, April 15 2014 1:25 p.m. MDT

In this Jan. 4, 2013 photo, Lyft passenger Christina Shatzen gets into a car driven by Nancy Tcheou in San Francisco. The Lyft ride-sharing app is being launched with local drivers this Friday. City leaders are debating whether it should be regulated like other ground transportation services. (Jeff Chiu, Associated Press) In this Jan. 4, 2013 photo, Lyft passenger Christina Shatzen gets into a car driven by Nancy Tcheou in San Francisco. The Lyft ride-sharing app is being launched with local drivers this Friday. City leaders are debating whether it should be regulated like other ground transportation services. (Jeff Chiu, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — A transportation company that got its start in San Francisco is coming to Utah.

The ride-sharing app Lyft will be launched with a fleet of local drivers driving cars with pink mustaches Friday night in Salt Lake City.

According to online video pitches, the service aims to build community by linking drivers with people who need rides. A promotional video on YouTube says that drivers employed through Lyft can meet a new person every day.

Still, some Salt Lake City leaders are mulling over how the service will fit in among more conventional transportation options.

"We know that this type of mobility option is certainly very interesting," said Robin Hutcheson, Salt Lake City's transportation director. "Whether it's good or bad is beside the point. It's an evolution in how people are choosing to be transported."

Cars with pink mustaches will start to appear on Salt Lake City Streets. They are part of a ride-sharing app Lyft that will launch a fleet Friday. (Michael Anderson, Deseret News) Cars with pink mustaches will start to appear on Salt Lake City Streets. They are part of a ride-sharing app Lyft that will launch a fleet Friday. (Michael Anderson, Deseret News)

However, not everyone agrees. Several taxi companies said Lyft should be regulated the same way they are and that taxi drivers spend lots of money to get properly registered with the city.

The Salt Lake City Airport Ground Transportation Office is in charge of enforcing those regulations. Manager Larry Bowers learned about Lyft's impending launch from the Deseret News. He said he intends to consult with the mayor's office, since he believes Lyft drivers would be operating illegally.

Currently, ground transportation operators have to carry a business license, must show a badge at the airport and must undergo strict security screenings from the Transportation Security Administration. Bowers says he believes "substantial penalties" and fines are likely.

A Lyft representative said each of Lyft's drivers undergo thorough background checks and vehicle inspections and are also backed by $1 million in additional liability insurance through the company.

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company