Lyft drivers could see $500 fines in Deadwood

DEADWOOD, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Lyft continues to grow in KOTA Territory, but not without obstacles. Currently, it is illegal for the ride-sharing app to operate in the city according to city ordinance.

The ordinance only allows five taxicab companies to operate with a total of 20 licenses for cabs. The problem is, all licenses are being used, according to City Commission member David Ruth Jr.

Drivers are allowed to drop -off in Deadwood if passengers are picked up in another town, and drivers can also pick-up in Deadwood if their destination is in a different town. But they can not pick-up within city limits, and then have that same rider dropped off in city limits.

If drivers are caught picking up and dropping off the same rider from point A to point B in city limits, the driver could be ticketed and fined up to $500. So now, Lyft may have to cancel rides.

"If the passenger's location is within Deadwood, it's suggested that drivers inform them of the city ordinance and have to find another method of transportation," said Lyft driver Jason McCulley.

In Rapid City, city council changed ordinances to allow Lyft to operate. The ride-sharing app is hoping for a similar outcome in Deadwood.

Ruth says the number of licenses allowed would need to change, but the city is willing to consider.

"We are certainly open to listening to both sides of the argument and making a decision after that," said Ruth.

David Wilson, who owns Canyon Cab Company, says he is all for competition, but if Lyft doesn't follow the same procedures as other taxi companies, they shouldn't be allowed to operate.

"You have to be an authorized cab and if you aren't, you don't have the right to be there," said Wilson. "I have the vehicles and employees but limited to number of cars so before they let Lyft come in, they should let me come in and have more vehicles."

McCulley responded by saying, "I don't think anyone is looking to wipe out the business. Passengers are looking for more affordable transportation options and services that might be easier."

Any changes to the ordinance would go through the transportation board and then city council.