Lyft stops NYC launch as Attorney General threatens action

Nate Swanner - Jul 11, 2014, 6:36pm CDT
Lyft stops NYC launch as Attorney General threatens action

Lyft, the ridesharing service with the big pink moustache, has delayed their Big Apple launch. The company was set to start giving rides this evening, but an eleventh hour delay is putting those plans off. Had they gone through with their service, it may have turned ugly — and quick.

The New York Attorney General asked the state Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order late Friday, which they say was implemented. Lyft denies the Attorney General’s claim that any injunction was implemented.

The Attorney General was in court just after the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) said Lyft 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.” A Lyft spokesperson had this to say about the licensing kerfuffle:

The judged adjourned to Monday and we agreed to hold our launch. We are obtaining the court transcript, and we will obtain statements by those in court to show this is a deliberate misstatement by the [Attorney General] and [Department of Financial Services]. There would be no need for a hearing on Monday if a TRO or injunction was granted. As further proof that court was adjourned, the [Attorney General’s] insurance claims were never presented and Lyft had no opportunity to respond.

What Lyft couldn’t answer is why they delayed their launch if no injunction were in place. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said “We pursued this action only after repeatedly offering to work with Lyft in order to ensure that its business practices complied with the law. Instead of collaborating with the State to help square innovation with statute and protect the public, as other technology companies have done as recently as this week, Lyft decided to move ahead and simply ignore state and local laws. Lyft’s arguments are a disingenuous attempt to disguise old-fashioned law-breaking that jeopardizes public safety.”

Lyft — along with competing ridesharing service Uber — have run into several roadblocks in other markets. Each has been sued or ordered to stop service, typically at the behest of a legacy transportation alliance. Uber ran afoul of the TLC when they launched their service in New York, but quickly gained acceptance by playing nice and running through the TLC’s checklist. Uber adheres to the TLC’s guidelines for “e-hailing” a taxi. It’s unclear if Lyft has any designs on working with those guidelines or not.

Source: Ars Technica

Must Read Bits & Bytes