New transportation service Lyft faces possible legal trouble in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Drivers for Kansas City's newest ride service could find themselves with tickets if city investigators find them.

Lyft, an on-demand ride sharing program, just launched in Kansas City this weekend. Users can find a ride through an app, and it is supposed to be a cheaper option.

However, Kansas City officials say it is an illegal option because the company isn't licensed with the city and neither are the drivers. 

That's why investigators will be actively searching for Lyft drivers in Kansas City.

"We're here for a reason and it is to help protect the public," said Gerald Countz with Kansas City Regulated Industries. That department is responsible for the permits and licenses for which taxi drivers and companies are required to file.

Those permits for drivers include background checks that catch criminal histories, including felons and sex offenders. Lyft does perform their own background checks, but that isn't good enough for city officials like Countz. 

"It’s cool, it’s the new thing, that's fine," he said. "But it is illegal right now."

When asked about operating in Kansas City illegally, a Lyft company spokesperson released the following statement:

"Lyft's peer-to-peer ridesharing model does not fit existing regulations for taxis and limos. We are reaching out to city leaders and look forward to working together."

So far, city leaders haven't heard from the company so they plan to keep cracking down.

"We'll issue citations until they run out of drivers," said Countz. The only other option would be a change in the city's ordinance.

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