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Ride-sharing app 'Lyft' comes to Utah
By Kimberly Nelson
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - There's a new type of transportation in Salt Lake. The ride share program called Lyft opened for business Friday.
It’s a service that gained national popularity when Conan Obrien wanted a lift.
"Right now going to go on Lyft app we're going to get us a car and have some fun,” said Conan. “Request Lyft; see all those cars near us?”
An unsuspecting Lyft driver took Conan, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart on a little joy ride. When Salt Lake resident Angie Palmer saw the show she knew whatever this Lyft thing was, she wanted in.
"Whatever has a great pink mustache on the front of the car I need to be part of," said Palmer.
So the college student signed up to be a Lyft driver.
Palmer told ABC 4 Utah, "You have to pass an extensive background check which is the most important thing."
After the background check, a car inspection and a little training Palmer was ready to hit the road and pick up people who need a ride.
"If you're ever in a situation where you need a Lyft, and you have jerk friends who won't come pick you up or you're stranded somewhere, you just open up your Lyft app on your Smartphone and request a driver and they'll come and pick you up and take you wherever you want to go,” explained Palmer.
When you sign up to be a Lyft user you link in with your Facebook account and give them your credit card information; this is what will be used for payment after your Lyft ride. No actual money is exchanged which is just one reason why Palmer says Lyft is not a taxi service.
"I'm driving my own car,” said Palmer. “Lyft doesn't provide us with cars. They don't provide us with gas, we pay our own insurance."
But the City of Salt Lake disagrees.
"Any time anyone pays someone else for a ride that's a transacting business and you need to have a license to do so,” explained Chief of Staff David Everitt.
Under the city's ground transportation regulations people giving rides and getting paid for it not only need to have a business license but a ground transportation license as well.
"It's a brave new world here for transportation options in Salt Lake City, and we really welcome there being different option, but we have to be sure we're preserving life safety standards as well as an even playing field for businesses in Salt Lake City,” said Everitt.
Palmer says she's not competing with taxi companies; she's not interested in just giving people rides, she wants to help make someone's day a little brighter.
"I hope that I can not only give people a ride, but maybe a bit of comfort for the day if they need someone to talk to or those types of things,” said Palmer.
The city says if found guilty of breaking the city's transportation laws there could be a fine of up to $700.