Lyft arrives in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Popular mobile app and ridesharing service "Lyft" has joined Uber in Columbia.

Lyft added Columbia to its company website one day after Gov. Eric Greitens signed new regulations on ride-hailing services into law.

Jerry Dowell, who works as the Director of Government Affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said Lyft's arrival in Columbia could increase job opportunities.

"I think it's going to give people an opportunity to earn some extra money," he said. "It gives them some flexibility to do that."

Dowell said these services could also increase local spending. 

"First of all you're creating a job locally, and people that are coming in are utilizing the service, so they're spending money locally," he said.

With Lyft entering the same operation space as Uber, Dowell views this competition as positive.  

"There are different pros and cons for each service and I think riders are going to choose the one that they like the best," he said. "I think having competition will make the service better for both."

While the law does not go into effect until August 28, 2017, a press release for Lyft reported the company is working with local communities to launch sooner.

The law requires transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to apply for business licenses with the Missouri Department of Revenue, and drivers will need to obtain a license from the department beginning August 28, 2017. The law also requires TNCs to conduct background checks on drivers and establish "zero tolerance" policies.

In a previous interview with KOMU 8 News, Rep. Kirk Mathews, (R-Pacific) said Uber's presence in Missouri is estimated to create thousands of new jobs.

"Uber alone anticipates there will be ten thousand new small business created because drivers are not employees of these companies, they're independent contractors, so they decide when they want to work if they want to work and when they don't want to work," Mathews said.

Mathews added these services are in high demand and help add value to Missouri. He said the state's lack of Transportation Network Companies could impact Missouri's perception as a high-tech state.  

"There are businesses that are located in our state that bring in potential customers and colleagues from all over the country that are quite frankly disappointed and kind of shocked that they can't get a TNC ride from the airport out to the business," Mathews said. "It's hurting our reputation around the country as being a high-tech state."

Dowell said it is too early to tell how TNC companies have impacted employment data in Columbia. 

"We're not quite there yet," he said. "I think we'll know a little more on the backside of the year, so the fourth quarter we'll probably have a better understanding of the kinds of jobs and opportunities that Lyft and Uber have provided in Columbia."

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