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Ridesharing Startup Lyft Will Continue Operating In NYC Despite Threats From The City's Taxi Commission

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Lyft's run in New York City may be startlingly short-lived.

The ride-sharing company known for the now-ubiquitous pink mustache on its cars announced on Tuesday that it would begin operating in the Big Apple, even though it didn't have permission from the city's Taxi and Limo Commission (TLC). 

Today the TLC released a statement calling Lyft "unauthorized in New York City."

"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 statement.

TLC Chair Meera Joshi released her own statement on Lyft's NYC operations.

"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.”

Joshi's "offer" refers to the Commission's "wish to work with [Lyft] to help them comply with the laws and rules that are central to protecting public safety and consumer rights, as we have with SO many other companies with new and innovative approaches," said a TLC official.

The TLC's statement also included a warning to would-be Lyft drivers, claiming they would be subject to legal action from the Commission.

"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," it said. 

San Francisco-based Lyft is valued at around $700 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. It raised $250 million back in April, TechCrunch reported at the time. 

Lyft responded to the TLC's statement with one of their own, claiming they would continue to operate in NYC.

"Lyft will offer a new and much needed transportation option for New Yorkers in the areas of the city where existing options are lacking," said spokesperson Erin Simpson. "Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ridesharing model."

See below for Lyft's full statement:

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.
This post has been updated.

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