They're billed as convenient, fast, more personable and clean, but San Antonio Police say quasi-rogue taxi companies such as Lyft, are not safe and illegal to operate in the city.
Here's how many of these companies work: Someone who wants to become a driver supplies them with their personal information. After the company does a background check, and goes through the applicant's DMV record, they could be approved in as little as 24 hours.
Prospective riders then download their smart phone application, and request a ride.
The problem with this is the public is put in danger. You don't know who is going to show up. You don't know what condition the car is going to be in, said San Antonio Police Chief McManus.
The chief adds, there are a strict set of laws the company is not following in the city.
Lyft may have all the insurance in the world, they may do all the background checks, but they are not permitted in the city by ordinance. They have not gone through the regulations to be a licensed cab driver or cab company, said McManus.
Lyft is already operating in 19 cities, including Dallas and Houston.
The limousine drivers and the cab drivers have to go through a program, they have to be licensed and vetted and background checks through the city, periodic drug testing, there's insurance requirements, there's vehicle inspection requirements, and there's dispatching requirements, said John Bouloubasis, the president of Yellow Cab San Antonio.
Every driver with Lyft gets a pink mustache to put on the grill of their car. Police say that will make them more obvious to spot which will make it easier for them to enforce the law. The crime is violation of multiple city ordinances and comes with a fine of up to $500.
The company claims they are not breaking the law because they operate on a donation system and claim that makes them exempt from city taxi ordinances.
Lyft says their smart phone app makes it easy for anybody to get a ride, but Yellow Cab says their Hail-A-Cab app is just as good and safer.
We have an app, it goes through a licensed dispatching system and goes out. There's a check and balance system to this that the city requires, said Bouloubasis.
Would you want one of your family members getting into an old car that's not inspected, and the driver doesn't have any type of credentials or any type of driving background experience, to transport you and charge you an outrageous amount?