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Lyft in New York City: Let's Try This One More Time

Only the service will look very different than it does in other markets.
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The on-again, off-again ride-sharing service Lyft is on again in New York City.

On the evening of July 25, the company says it will once more attempt to launch in New York. This time, the launch won't just be in Brooklyn and Queens, but all of New York City.

One hitch: Customers who have taken Lyft rides in other cities might barely recognize the service--aside from the likelihood its signature pink fluffy mustaches will still show up on the front of each Lyft car. 

In fact, the way Lyft will be operating doesn't even qualify as "ride-sharing," the company's original business model.

That's because the city Taxi and Limousine Commission requires vehicles hailed by the public to be driven by drivers vetted and registered by the TLC. According to court papers, Lyft is complying with these regulations, and will be charging fixed rates for its rides as well. (Lyft originally operated on a "donation" system.) 

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge approved the agreement between the city commission and Lyft Friday morning. 

Lyft, which started up in San Francisco and operates in nearly 70 markets, attempted to launch in Brooklyn and Queens on July 11. But that week, it was slapped with a cease-and-desists letter from the state Department of Financial Services. The city TLC also threatened to impose heavy fines on Lyft drivers and impound their cars should the service launch.

Lyft would not disclose how many drivers it expects to have on the road when launching on July 25 at 7 p.m.; abiding by the new requirement likely slices down the company's eligible drivers to a sliver of those formerly on board.

If you hail one, it might just be your local car service in a friendly disguise.

In a blog post the company said, as of August 1, it will halt operations in two other New York cities, Buffalo and Rochester, "while we 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 is hoping to work with the TLC and the attorney general's office on a future launch for actual ride-sharing. Until then, keep your eyes peeled in NYC for pink moustaches. Only if you hail one, it might just be your local car service in a friendly disguise--or even a New York City cab.

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Jul 25, 2014

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.




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