updated 01:24 pm EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
NYC commission unclear as to what requirements must be met for new drivers
Lyft has conceded many of its talking points to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), but in doing so has forged an agreement to commence operation. Pickups will commence today at 7PM in all five boroughs, but all drivers need to be licensed by the TLC prior to accepting customers. As part of the deal, Lyft will also need to shut down in Buffalo and Rochester to enhance insurance that it offers to riders and drivers.
It is unclear as to which series of licensing requirement that the TLC will require for Lyft drivers. Four classes of licensing exist, with escalating requirements for each. Electronista contacted the TLC, and was given conflicting information, with one official saying that "section one" of the requirements were all that was needed, with a second, more senior official saying that they would deny all candidates that did not provide documentation for a "section three" for-hire vehicle licensure.
Lyft is a San Francisco-based company whose mobile-phone application facilitates peer-to-peer ride-sharing by enabling passengers who need a ride to request one from drivers who have a car. Unlike traditional taxis, Lyft drivers do not charge fares, but instead receive "donations" from their passengers, facilitated through the app. Lyft currently operates in 60 US cities, with plans to expand both domestically and internationally.
The service announced plans to launch on July 11, and was met with resistance from the city of New York. A city official reportedly said that Lyft "want to come in and operate outside the law. There are no shades of gray on this. They intend to operate outside the law."
New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman said of the deal that "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."
Previously, the city warned that "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."