It's like déjà vu all over again -- but with better results the second time around.
San Francisco-based ride-sharing startup Lyft is officially coming to New York City tonight. Yes, it’s official this time. Earlier this month, the company was set to begin its service in Brooklyn and Queens, two of the outer boroughs of the Big Apple. But the launch was sidelined by the New York State Supreme Court.
The ultra-hip launch party went on anyway and was mocked mercilessly.
But Lyft is back after a Manhattan Supreme Court judge signed off on an agreement between the company and the city this morning. The problem was that Lyft allows unregistered drivers to pick up passengers. Uber, by contrast, uses drivers that are either registered with a local Taxi and Limousine Commission-regulated base or are Taxi and Limousine Commission-regulated taxis in New York City.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin M. Lawsky went so far as to say that Lyft’s model “jeopardizes public safety.”
In the last two weeks, Lyft and New York City regulators have managed to find common ground. Starting at 7 p.m. tonight, Lyft will launch in all five boroughs of New York City. The launch will be a limited, “beta” rollout to begin with a full rollout to come in a matter of weeks, according to a blog post from the company.
“This agreement is the first big step in finding a home for Lyft’s peer-to-peer model in New York,” the post says. “Now that we’ve outlined a path forward with state leaders, we will work together to make peer-to-peer policy progress as we have in numerous other cities and states.”
While regulators and innovators are chronically at odds, this is proof that the groups can negotiate and find a solution. Though, there is more work to be done.
In addition to working with city regulators, Lyft says it will work with New York state insurance regulators to update policies. Lyft service outside of New York City but in New York state -- namely in Buffalo and Rochester -- will be temporarily stopped by Aug. 1 until statewide insurance policies are updated.
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