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Fast Company

Most Innovative Companies

Undercover Police Are Targeting Uber And Lyft Drivers To "Send A Message"

Posing as riders, officers are requesting rides and fining the drivers who pick them up.

Undercover police operations have been systematically targeting Uber and Lyft drivers by issuing citations totaling thousands of dollars in cities including Madison and Pittsburgh.

In Madison, a police sting operation from the weekend resulted in $1,300 in fines for drivers of both e-hailing companies. Officers in plain clothes used the startups' apps to summon rides and then cited the drivers for violating the city's taxi ordinances and for transporting passengers for hire without a license. A police captain in the traffic division said these fines are meant to "send a message that the city was not going to tolerate their operation without licensing."

It's a similar situation in Pittsburgh, which, as of Thursday, has issued 23 tickets, with penalties varying from $25 to $300, to drivers for operating without licenses. Uber, which says it's experienced the fastest growth in Pittsburgh, has been rallying riders in the city with the hashtag #PGHNeedsUber, asking them to contact state officials.

Lyft said it will pay the the drivers' fines as well as legal assistance. "We are in conversations with local leaders in these cities and hope to identify a path forward that will allow ridesharing to thrive," a representative told Fast Company. "These communities have all expressed excitement and enthusiasm around Lyft's arrival as a safe, fun and reliable transportation option." Reports suggest Uber will also cover the cost of these citations. We have also reached out to Uber and will update this post if we hear back.

[Image: Flickr user reynermedia]