AUSTIN (KXAN) – As social media buzzes about Lyft’s upcoming launch in Austin, the City of Austin is reminding would-be drivers that they could lose their cars if caught driving without proper permits.
According to a statement by the Austin Transportation Department, a chauffeur’s permit is required for any driver who is being paid by a company or passenger for more than the $0.56 per mile Federal Reimbursement rate.
In the Lyft business model, the passenger pays the company via credit card information that is saved in the user’s account. The company then pays the driver 80 percent of the collected fare.
Lyft is offering users in the Austin area 50 free rides, which indicates the company may be planning to launch without charging its users.
The city also reminded nonpermitted ground transportation companies that they are “operating outside the law.”
“The Austin Transportation Department’s role is to enforce the Austin City Code, and as the Code is written today when a driver is paid to provide ground transportation services, the providing company must be permitted and the driver must have chauffeur’s permit. ATD is currently working on a process to engage transportation stakeholders in order to make a recommendation to the City Council about a possible pilot program to see how transportation network companies could possibly operate in Austin. We look forward to that process and working with the community to see what works best for Austin.”
ATD says it has not been contacted by Transportation Network Companies, such as Lyft or Uber, seeking permitting.