The battle of Lyft vs. New York City – mainly its Taxi and Limo Commission – has finally produced a resolution. Lyft will launch in all five boroughs of NYC tonight, but only after making some pretty big concessions.
"Tonight, after making positive progress with local and state leaders, Lyft will launch in all five boroughs of New York City. We’ve finalized an agreement to offer immediate access to our friendly, affordable rides through a TLC-licensed model beginning at 7 p.m.," says Lyft.
TLC-licensed model? Recode reports that Lyft had to give up a major aspect of what make Lyft (and Uber and others like it) true peer-to-peer ride-sharing services. Apparently, Lyft drivers in New York City will have to be licensed by the TLC.
Lyft has also agreed to suspend their current operations in Buffalo and Rochester, while they "work with the Attorney General’s Office and Department of Financial Services to align New York State’s insurance laws and regulations with emerging technologies of the 21st century."
Lyft had planned to launch earlier this month, despite regulatory pushback. The TLC's official rationale for opposing Lyft's business was that the company had "not complied with TLC’s safety requirements and other licensing criteria to verify the integrity and qualifications of the drivers or vehicles used in their service, and Lyft does not hold a license to dispatch cars to pick up passengers."
Lyft's response was that they didn't think the TLC's licensing and base station rules apply to their ridesharing model.
Then, hours before Lyft's scheduled launch, they were slapped with multiple restraining orders – from both the TLC and state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. That's where we stood before today.
Here's what Schneiderman had to say about today's 'truce':
"We are pleased that our offices have reached an agreement today with Lyft. We are firmly committed to the notion that regulators can work constructively with companies so that new ideas can come to the market -- and that smart regulation should create an environment where innovators can compete. Lyft's launch in New York City -- in full compliance with laws and regulations -- is proof positive of this principle. We will continue to work with Lyft so that any future business it undertakes meets that standard and protects consumer safety. We look forward to exploring solutions that enable companies in the sharing economy to operate and thrive throughout New York State."
"This agreement is the first big step in finding a home for Lyft’s peer-to-peer model in New York," says Lyft.
Something tells me this isn't the end of the battle.
Image via Lyft, Facebook