- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A ride-sharing service has started service in St. Louis, ignoring a cease and desist order from the city’s taxi commission.

Lyft, the smartphone app-based ride service, lets users look for members who offer rides. Lyft drivers, who outfit the front grilles of their cars with large pink mustaches, are separate from for-hire taxi services. There is no set payment on Lyft rides, but passengers are instead encouraged to make a donation when the ride is over. The Lyft app displays dozens of car icons dotting a map of the city to show potential riders if one is nearby.

The program began Friday in St. Louis, with the San Francisco-based company throwing a launch party in the Cherokee Business District, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1izJz7B ).

“I just feel like St. Louis should really embrace it and see what it’s about,” said Jermasa Dees, 27, of the Fox Park neighborhood who was one of about three dozen new Lyft drivers who attended the party.

Lyft ignored a cease and desist order from the city’s taxi commission when the app went live in St. Louis on Friday. Richard Callow, a spokesman for the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, said a Lyft driver had been given a citation less than two hours after starting and that enforcement officers were also handing Lyft drivers lists of registered cab companies that are hiring.

Ron Klein, the commission’s executive director, said the commission planned to be in court Monday to seek an injunction to stop Lyft.

“We just want everybody to be legal,” Klein said. Klein said his group “doesn’t want to be the bad guy.”

“We are just worried about insurance coverage, and background checks for the drivers,” he said.

Paige Thelen, a Lyft spokeswoman, said injunctions and tickets wouldn’t stop the app and that Lyft would support the drivers, which could include paying their fines.

“I think St. Louis is excited,” Thelen said. “We have seen a great reaction.”

Joe Quinn, 31, of University City, signed up as a Lyft driver.

“I like the concept of collaborative consumption,” he said. “I think it’s more sustainable. And it makes sense if it is just sitting there anyway you might as well monetize it and make money.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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