Mitchell gives Lyft the green light

Published: Feb. 5, 2018 at 10:42 PM CST
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Mitchell is joining the list of cities in South Dakota that offer Lyft ride-sharing services.

The city council gave the service the green light at a meeting Monday night.

All the council had to do was approve a license for a driver who had already gone through the application process and background check for Lyft. This would normally be a quick yes or no vote.

But since this vote was paving the way for ridesharing in the city it sparked a much more complicated discussion.

Art Streetman owns EZ Ride Taxi.

“We've been working 8 years and we've built this business up and we're very proud of it. We've worked really hard,” Streetman said.

And the council’s ‘yes’ vote wasn’t what he was hoping for.

He addressed the council at the meeting to explain why.

“It's going to be up to you guys to decide this whether they come or not, and if they do come, you're going to put other taxis, my business, and I’m sure two other businesses out of business,” Streetman said.

He wasn't the only taxi owner who showed up.

“I'd have never started if I knew more cab companies were coming into Mitchell. There's three companies here that's enough for Mitchell,” Speedy Taxi owner Wayne Feistner said.

The person who applied to drive for Lyft also took the podium.

“It was just something to do on downtime and off time and I’m not trying to put anybody out of business by any means,” Thomas Schaffner said.

Some people have already been driving for Lyft in Mitchell because they didn’t realize they were violating an ordinance.

Derek Davis says the police called him and asked him to stop driving for Lyft. He gave some insight during the meeting.

“I think that it's just friendly competition is all it is,” Davis said.

Streetman asked the council to consider putting a cap on the number of Lyft drivers.

But they decided to move forward by simply accepting the permit.

“If we had six other taxi businesses coming to town that were not Lyft would we have objections to that competition also? With taxi businesses if we put caps on are we going to put caps on grocery stores, gas stations, anybody else that's in business,” Councilor Steve Rice said.