Lyft will pay $10,000 for failing to report a violent driver — and that’s not nearly enough

Stiffer fines are needed to grab the attention of ride-hailing services and avoid another tragedy.

SHARE Lyft will pay $10,000 for failing to report a violent driver — and that’s not nearly enough
Anis Tungekar (center) and his two sons. Tunkegar was kicked in the head by a ride-hailing problem driver that Lyft failed to report to the city.

Anis Tunkegar (center) and his two sons. Tunkegar was kicked in the head by a ride-hailing problem driver that Lyft failed to report to the city.

Provided photo

For a company that raked in $2.2 billion in revenue last year, $10,000 isn’t even pocket change.

Unfortunately, $10,000 is the maximum fine the city could levy against the ride-hailing service Lyft, which agreed this week to admit that it failed last year to report a violent driver. The driver later went to work for another ride-hail service and allegedly killed a man in a traffic dispute.

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Lyft’s $10,000 fine is an insult to the family of Anis Tungekar. who died two days after the former Lyft driver, Fangqi Lu, allegedly kicked him in the head.

As Tungekar’s son Omar told Sun-Times reporter Mitch Dudek, “A $10,000 fine isn’t justice. It’s a joke.”

Ride-hailing companies rake in billions of dollars every year. And one sure way to make sure they don’t cut corners, especially on passenger safety, is to threaten those billions.

To that end, Chicago should sharply increase the maximum penalty that can be levied against ride share companies that fail to report violent drivers to the city’s Bureau of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection within 48 hours — a technical violation of bureau rule that requires notification any time a company deactivates a driver for safety-related reasons, such as a criminal complaint, arrest or similar matter.

A potential fine of six figures sounds about right to us, and City Council should consider it. Ride-hailing firms will balk at such a stiff increase — but you can bet they’ll make sure to cross every “t” and dot every “i” to avoid it.

Lyft did not do so, and the result was a deadly tragedy.

The chain of events began in July 2018, when then-Lyft driver Lu punched a passenger, who reported this to Lyft. The company immediately revoked Lu’s driving privileges and “deactivated” him two weeks later.

But because Lyft failed to report Lu to the city, other ride-hailing companies were never alerted. Lu began driving for Uber and, in September 2018, got into a traffic dispute with Tungekar and allegedly kicked him in the head. Tunkegar died two days later.

Lu fled to China before he could be arrested on a charge of first-degree murder. China has no extradition treaty with the United States.

Lyft is out $10,000, and Lu will likely never stand trial.

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