Lyft Launches Friday in NYC Despite Regulatory Pushback

Josh WolfordTechnology

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Lyft is not backing down in its quest to bring its on-demand car service to the Big Apple, despite warnings from the city's Taxi and Limo Commission that they will not hesitate to take legal action.

Earlier this week, Lyft announced that it was finally launching in New York City – not all of NYC, but in two boroughs to start. On Friday at 7pm EST, Lyft will begin operation in Brooklyn and Queens. Lyft has offered all new passengers in the city two free weeks worth of rides, saying that "the people of New York deserve more transportation options."

Lyft, no stranger to regulatory backlash, is now facing a formidable opponent in New York's Taxi and Limo Commission.

"Lyft has 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," said the TLC in a statement. "Unsuspecting drivers who sign-up with Lyft are at risk of losing their vehicles to TLC enforcement action, as well as being subject to fines of up to $2,000 upon conviction for unlicensed activity."

TLC head Meera Joshi expounded on that statement, warning Lyft and its drivers that the commission will take any and all actions necessary to thwart its efforts.

"Every rider deserves the safety and consumer protections our rules provide, and we have a long track record of working successfully with innovative companies to help them start out the right way," she said. "We're still hopeful that Lyft will accept our offer to help them do the right thing for New York City passengers as they should, but New Yorkers can rest assured that the TLC will do its job and take the actions necessary to protect them,” she said.

Lyft, of course, scoffs at any suggestion that safety is an issue.

"As always, safety is our top priority and every driver has undergone a screening process that is more stringent than what’s required for NYC taxis, including a strict background check, vehicle inspection and $1,000,000 insurance that provides more than three times the $300,000 minimum for taxis," says Lyft.

It isn't safety, but a simple difference of opinion between it and the TLC, says Lyft. In a statement, Lyft suggested that it will launch as planned, as it doesn't believe the TLC's licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ride-sharing model:

Lyft will offer a new and much needed transportation option for New Yorkers in the areas of the city where existing options are lacking. This improvement in transportation will provide important opportunities that New Yorkers want and deserve. We'll continue to work with all stakeholders to create a path forward. Our focus remains on the community, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ridesharing model. It's important to clarify that our differences of opinion are not about safety standards, and that's because we put safety first. In new markets when we begin conversation with local regulators, we always find a way to ensure that communities have Lyft. We're certainly different from the status quo, but that is our strength.

Today we're releasing our Safety Commitment. We will never waver in keeping our drivers and passengers safe. This is Lyft's commitment to our community and yours.

Here's that Safety commitment Lyft mentions:

Lyft NYC Safety Commitment

Though it's not Lyft, stories like this about similar service Uber fail to help the company's cause. Lyft has fought with regulators in cities all across the country, but it's likely never seen an entity as massive as the New York Taxi commission.

Image via Lyft, Facebook

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf