Home City There’s a new way to get home from the Athens bars: Lyft

There’s a new way to get home from the Athens bars: Lyft

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Theres a new way to get around Athens. Photo left via Lyft.

Athens residents and Ohio U students with the Lyft app might have noticed something new: drivers are now in the Athens area.

Liberty Mobility Now and local Athens taxi services may have a new competitor in town.  Recently, Lyft expanded its Cincinnati-area coverage to include the Athens area and part of Nelsonville.  

Lyft has arrived six months after Liberty Mobility Now came to Athens, becoming the first ride-sharing service in the city.  Liberty Mobility Now later moved its headquarters to Athens after partnering with the Ohio University Innovation Center in April.

According to House Bill 237, ride-sharing services (or “transportation network companies,” as they are called in the bill) in the state of Ohio do not need to register with local cities or municipalities, only with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The PUCO will issue a TNC permit to any company that does all of the following: applies for a permit, affirms that they will remain in compliance with state law and the PUCO’s rules and submits a permit fee of $5,000. Permits issued will be effective for one year from the issuance date,” PUCO’s website states.

The law outlines additional requirements that ride-sharing companies have to meet in order to operate lawfully in Ohio. The requirements range from requiring drivers to have a minimum amount of insurance to maintaining company records for two years.

HB 237 was also designed to override any existing or future city laws regarding rideshare services, like the city laws in Columbus that were overridden by the implementation of this law, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch.  

“The regulation of transportation network companies, transportation network company drivers, and transportation network company services is a matter of general statewide interest that requires statewide regulation,” the law states.

“Accordingly, except as authorized in division (A)(2) of this section, it is the intent of the general assembly to preempt any local ordinance, resolution, or other law adopted to license, register, tax, or otherwise regulate transportation network companies, transportation network company drivers, or transportation network company services.”

Lyft is currently registered with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, so it is authorized to operate statewide. This means that Lyft may be here to stay.  

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