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3 cited in Omaha area on ridesharing allegation

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — State regulators have ticketed three suburban Omaha people for allegedly working as drivers for a ridesharing service, which are not allowed to operate in Nebraska, officials say.

Public Service Commission investigators on Wednesday ticketed three suspected Lyft drivers in Sarpy County on suspicion of four violations, including driving without a commission permit, the commission's director, Mark Breiner, told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1zQzrMF ). Ridesharing services, including Lyft and its rival, Uber, violate the state's taxicab regulations, and more drivers from could be cited, Breiner said.

"Driving for Uber and Lyft can open a person up to these kind of citations," he said.

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said Lyft will help the drivers fight the citations.

"The Lyft communities in Omaha and Lincoln have been part of a transportation movement that is helping make city life safer, friendlier and more affordable," she said. "As we continue conversations with local leaders around these challenges, we will stand strong with drivers and passengers every step of the way, fighting any citations, covering relevant costs and making policy progress."

On Thursday, Uber announced that its UberX service, which came to Omaha earlier this year, would be joining Lyft in offering service in Lincoln. Lauren Altmin, an Uber spokeswoman, said her company also provides safe transportation to cost-conscious Nebraska residents.

"We look forward to continuing to work with officials in Nebraska to ensure a permanent home for ridesharing in the state," she said.

Both services require drivers to use their own vehicles and connect with potential customers via smartphone apps. Uber and Lyft require drivers to pass background checks and safety requirements, as well as cover their vehicles through their own auto insurance. But unlike taxis, the ridesharing cars aren't commercially licensed, which violates state laws that regulate the taxicab industry.

"Their position was that the statutes don't apply," Breiner said. "We will enforce the law against them as we see the necessity to enforce it."

He said his office has been investigating the companies all summer. The commissioner has told the two San Francisco-based companies that they need the commission's permission to offer services in Nebraska.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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