Is Lyft's 'pink mustache' ride service legal in Detroit?

Lyft is smartphone-based ride service which matches riders with drivers

By Jamie Edmonds - Reporter

DETROIT - It's the new way to get a lift.

Grab your phone, download an app, press a button. Just like that, your ride arrives.

You must have seen the big pink mustaches on cars around town. If you don't know, those are Lyft cars. Lyft is a smartphone-based ride service that matches people who need rides with those willing to give them. The San Francisco-based company has been around for a few years, but just launched in Detroit in late March.

On Monday, we tried it out for ourselves. Within minutes of requesting the Lyft, our ride arrived with our driver, Younan.

Younan has been driving with Lyft since it launched. He believes it's a better way to travel, much better than cabs, he said.

"We're cleaner, we're friendlier," he said.

But, the city of Detroit took issue with Lyft, and companies like it, arguing the drivers weren't following the law. They don't have the licenses required of all vehicle-for-hire drivers.

Lyft's stance is they don't need those since they don't have a fleet of cars. The vehicles used are the personal cars of the drivers.

Melvin Hollowell, corporate counsel for the city, said their main concern was safety for everyone involved. The city and Lyft came to a working agreement this past Friday. The company will adhere to higher safety and insurance standards and the city will allow them to operate for two years.

Hollowell believes city council will have to update regulations eventually.

Younan said it's good the city and Lyft could come to an agreement because a smartphone-based system is how people roll these days.

"They request the Lyft, within 15 seconds I respond," he said. "Then, I'm on my way to you and you can track my progress on your phone. You can see my picture and what kind of car I will be coming in."

Hollowell said they have not come to an agreement yet with Uber, a company similar to Lyft. As of now, he's issued a cease and desist notice and that remains in effect until they can.

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