SPOKANE, Wash. - A new kind of taxi, the ride-sharing company "Lyft", is making it's way across the country and has made a stop in Spokane.
Lyft has brought controversy from other taxi companies and cities as well. It's banned, for example, in Los Angeles.
If you need a lift from the Y to downtown Spokane, one of the drivers nearby will pick you up and take you there for a suggested donation, but local taxi companies are calling it illegal.
It goes against everything you've been taught, getting into cars with strangers, but hop into Shannon Meyers' car and you'll quickly become her friend.
"We need to have a first bump to get things going," she laughed.
Meyers is one of the first drivers for Lyft in Spokane. Their app to connects drivers with people who need a ride. All Lyft drivers, have a pink mustache on their grill.
"After they see you, they wave at you, they're pointing and giving you the thumbs up, it's been really fun wearing the mustache," Meyers said.
Each ride has a suggested donation, instead of a fare meter, and taxi drivers with meters are skeptical of the company.
"They can't operate in the city of Spokane, without a for-hire tag in their back window," Bill Boomer with Bill's Friendly Rides said.
Boomer is friendly; it's part of his company name, but he thinks it's unfair he has to pay taxi licensing fees while Lyft drivers don't.
"All the cab owners that i have talked with, we all feel the same way," he said. "If they're not going to charge them the fees that they're charging us, why should we pay?"
The city is taking note and working with both sides.
"There are going to be some rules, some licensing, things like that, that are more than likely going to apply," Spokane city councilman Mike Fagan said.
Lyft claims its drivers are heavily insured and pass strict background checks. Meyers hopes they can co-exist, maybe even be friends.
"We really also feel it's important that the community has options when it comes to transportation and Lyft offers a safe and fun option," Meyers said.
Lyft was banned in Los Angeles because the drivers don't have independent commercial licenses. A Lyft spokeswoman says they'll work with Spokane city leaders on this issue and hope to come up with new regulations because it's a different model than your standard taxi-cab, which is something city councilmembers are open to.
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