Lyft’s New York City launch moved a step closer on Monday after the ride-sharing service agreed to work with the City and Taxi Limousine Commission (TLC) to resolve a dispute between the two sides.
Following a court session Monday, Lyft said it would use TLC-licensed drivers for its New York City service, which it plans to launch first in Brooklyn and Queens.
In an email to Digital Trends, a spokeswoman for Lyft said, “We recognize and respect that Judge Freed wishes for all parties to work together on a path forward in a timely fashion.” She added that in light of Monday’s court proceedings, Lyft expects to launch its service in the city “shortly”.
Lyft had planned to roll out its service for New Yorkers at the end of last week, despite being told by the TLC that it flouted local regulations. The startup disagreed, insisting it would begin operating at 7pm on July 11, as originally planned. Frustrated by Lyft’s response, the TLC advised the public not to use the service, and warned Lyft drivers they could be hit with heavy fines. However, it was only when city officials took the matter to court on Friday – just hours before the service was set to get underway – that the startup had a change of mind and postponed the launch.
The Attorney General’s Office didn’t hold back during Friday’s court session, claiming Lyft had “simply waltzed into New York and set up shop while defying every law passed whose very purpose is to protect the People of the State of New York.”
It continued, “Despite being warned and told to cease and desist by three separate regulatory and enforcement agencies, [Lyft] has thumbed its nose at the law and continued with its plan to launch in what could become its largest market.”
The startup originally said it believed it could operate in the same way as it does in other US cities, with stringent checks on cars and drivers but without the use of commercial licenses.
To get its New York City service off the ground, it’s now agreed to go down the licensing route, though it told Digital Trends it will continue to “vigorously push” for acceptance of its traditional model of operation.
Rival ride-sharing service Uber experienced similar issues when it started operating in New York City a couple of years back. Today, its lower-cost UberX service – comparable in many ways to Lyft’s – uses commercially licensed vehicles and drivers. Lyft looks set to follow suit.