Lyft announces expansion to Carbondale, but city says current drivers are operating illegally


(Photo provided by Lyft)

Ride-share service Lyft announced Thursday it is expanding its services to more than 50 new cities, including Carbondale, but the city says current drivers are using the transportation network illegally.

While Lyft said people in Carbondale will be able to use its service Thursday, Amy Fox, Carbondale’s public relations officer, said the city is advising locals to not use the service because no drivers have been legally permitted by the city. Lyft will be legally available to SIU students and community members April 1, she said, as will Uber, if it chooses to expand to Carbondale.

Fox said while checking Lyft on Thursday, she saw two drivers in the city.


However, Scott Coriell, a communications manager at Lyft, said the transportation network is operating under statewide regulations until Carbondale’s regulations take effect April 1.

“Lyft will operate under those statewide regulations until any city-specific regulations go into effect in Carbondale,” he said in an email.

Fox said driver applications will be available through the city’s website in the next two to three weeks. Applicants are required to pay a $45 fee for a background check and provide proof of insurance and a driver’s license. Their vehicle will then go through a safety inspection and if they meet all the legal criteria, the drivers will receive a vehicle sticker from the city.

Lyft issued a news release Thursday morning saying its services would be available in 54 new cities, including Carbondale, Decatur and Kankakee.

The announcement came about a week after Carbondale’s city council lifted municipal restrictions and added new designations to operate individual fare-based vehicles, paving the way for transportation network companies to open in Carbondale.

The law previously required taxicabs to apply for special company licenses that vetted companies for auto insurance and scheduled regular mechanical inspections with a city-owned garage. The changes favor companies that rely on ride-share applications and hire individual drivers to find passengers.

Staff writer Luke Nozicka can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @lukenozicka.


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