Lyft, the app that connects anyone with a car to people willing to pay for a ride, was supposed to go live in New York City Friday night, hours before a massive Brooklyn launch party. The launch was highly publicized, and Lyft promised two weeks of free rides to introduce New Yorkers to the service.
Unfortunately for the San Francisco-based company, the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission and the state attorney general immediately dragged Lyft into court and put the kibosh on the launch. Lyft is not permitted to operate in its planned markets of Brooklyn, Queens, Rochester, and Buffalo until it can hammer out a deal with the authorities that regulate the taxi industry.
It could be a while before New Yorkers can actually use Lyft. It took competitor Uber a year to negotiate a deal with the city regulators for its taxi-hailing app.
But the venue was already booked and hundreds of guests had already RSVP'ed. Lyft put up a blog post explaining the situation and threw a launch party anyway.
- A small group of taxi and livery drivers stood next to the line for the party, shouting slogans like, “Lyft out of New York!” They say they are concerned about public safety and competition from uncertified drivers.
- Nancy Soria from the New York Association of Independent Taxi Drivers explains the Lyft threat to a passing livery car driver. “This is really drastic for our industry and the safety of New Yorkers,” she tells The Verge. “It can create a lot of havoc on our livelihood and we feel they should pack up and leave.”
- Once inside the party, pink mustaches were everywhere.
- A couple shows off their Lyft staches. Hundreds of New Yorkers turned out and the event quickly hit capacity, leaving many waiting in line.
- This gentleman was not affiliated with Lyft.
- Arm mustaches.
- New York City street artist Elle affixes drawings created by attendees to a giant mural.
- Most people at the party had never used Lyft; they heard about the event through the media or the New York startup scene. Those who had used it in California or another city were fans. Lyft's hoping to get enough public support to carry it through regulatory hurdles.
- The party included performances by Golden Pony and Q-Tip as well as free beer and icy treats from Brooklyn-based People's Pops.
- The Chalk Car, created by Lyft driver Grant Gordon, will be in New York all week. Gordon, who has been driving for a year in San Francisco, is making a documentary about the sharing economy.
- The party started at 10PM and wound down around 1AM.