On-demand ride-sharing startup Lyft held its first-ever community meeting in Los Angeles last night, inviting drivers and passengers to meet one another and share their stories. The prompt for the meeting was a cease-and-desist order that the company received from the city a few weeks before and the company’s hope to rally support around keeping the service running in L.A.
Since receiving that order, Lyft has received support from both drivers and passengers: Matthew Giangrande, who has been driving for Lyft for the last few months, went to a Transportation Committee meeting to dispel some of the myths about the service, such as there are no background checks for the drivers or that they’re not insured.
Meanwhile, frequent L.A. passenger Laura Hunt started a blog and a Twitter account devoted to helping connect community members and share their stories with others. In just a few short weeks, they’ve attracted a fair amount of attention from drivers and passengers alike.
For Lyft, the event was a way to demonstrate the power of community and to bring people together. This isn’t the only thing the company has planned — it’s hoping to organize a rally outside City Hall in the next few weeks to show support for the service, co-founder John Zimmer told the audience at the event.
Zimmer told us that he’s been in touch with the mayor’s office here, and believes that new mayor Eric Garcetti is in support of innovation and wants to help solve some of the transportation crunch in the city — basically the need for everyone here to own a car. Lyft just started that conversation but expects to continue to work with the local government and community here to keep the service up and running.
Of course, this isn’t the first run-in that Lyft has had with regulators. It also received a cease-and-desist notice from the California Public Utilities Commission last year, but was able to resolve that issue. While it’s going to continue operating in L.A., it’s hoping that it can convince local regulators of the work it’s doing around safety and leverage community support to get the city on-board as well.