(Adds details of agreement; statements from Lyft, New York
attorney general and the city's taxi commission; background and
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, July 25 Lyft Inc will launch
ride-sharing operations on Friday evening in New York City after
reaching an agreement with New York authorities over the
company's compliance with state licensing and insurance
The agreement with New York Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman and the state's top insurance regulator, Benjamin
Lawsky, also calls for Lyft to suspend its current operations in
Buffalo and Rochester by Aug. 1, while the company continues to
work with authorities on ensuring that its model complies with
Lyft allows people to use a smartphone to request a ride
within minutes from a "background-checked driver," who is paid
with a stored credit card when the ride ends, according to its
website. For payment, Lyft collects suggested donations in some
cities and a set amount in others.
The company offers drivers an insurance plan and operates in
more than 30 states, according to its website.
The deal comes one week after Schneiderman and Lawsky asked
a state judge to block Lyft's planned New York City launch just
hours before it was set to start, claiming the company had
ignored state law.
Under the agreement, Lyft drivers will be licensed by the
city's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to provide for-hire
Rides will begin at 7 p.m., the company said in a blog post.
It was not immediately clear how many drivers would be involved.
"This agreement is the first big step in finding a home for
Lyft's peer-to-peer model in New York," the blog post said.
"Community-powered transportation - neighbors driving neighbors
in their personal cars - ensures broader access to more
affordable rides in places with limited transit options, like
the outer boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens."
In a statement, Scheniderman said the agreement is "proof
positive" that regulators and companies can work together to
allow new ideas to come to market.
Lyft's competitors include Sidecar, which also links
passengers with drivers who use their personal vehicles; and
Uber, Flywheel and Hailo, which connect passengers and taxis.
Many have clashed with various state and city regulators.
Uber already operates in New York City and uses TLC-licensed
"We are pleased to welcome Lyft as a fully-licensed for-hire
service in New York City, and appreciate their having fulfilled
their commitment to the TLC and to the court to act within the
law," said TLC Chairwoman Meera Joshi.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Bernard