Lyft is finally launching in New York City, but it's making some concessions to do so. After a back-and-forth battle between Lyft and the city, the two have finally struck a deal that will allow Lyft to begin offering service throughout the city's five boroughs, but only so long as Lyft drivers register with the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission. That makes Lyft's operation in New York distinctly different from its modus operandi: Lyft's fleet is usually composed of anyone who has a car and some free time, but in the city they'll all have to be registered cab drivers. Recode reports that Uber's UberX service, which usually operates like Lyft, follows these same rules in New York.
"We will continue to work … to craft new rules."
That will certainly add some hurdles for would-be Lyft drivers, as it is in effect now much closer to a standard taxi-hailing app. Lyft still hopes that it'll eventually be able to launch its traditional service in the city though. "We will continue to work with city and state officials to craft new rules for the peer-to-peer model, so we can bring the most affordable options to the areas that need it most, powered by their local residents," a Lyft spokesperson tells The Verge.
While Lyft will be able to launch throughout New York City, it'll have a reduced presence elsewhere in New York. Within a week, Lyft will have to halt its service in Buffalo and Rochester, and it hasn't said when service might be restored. There is some consolation for Lyft though, as it originally only planned to launch in Brooklyn and Queens, but will now be launching more widely in New York City. "We are firmly committed to the notion that regulators can work constructively with companies so that new ideas can come to the market," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says in a statement, "and that smart regulation should create an environment where innovators can compete."
Lyft initially attempted to launch in New York City earlier this month, quite blatantly skirting the local taxi laws, perhaps in an attempt to force a regulatory showdown. Certainly, it got just that. Regulators jumped on Lyft before a single one of its cabs hit the road, stopping its launch because of its failure to follow the laws in place governing taxi services. The two sides had something of a public war of pointed fingers over the launch holdup, but ultimately it appears that Lyft has just agreed to follow the law. It's apparently legal issues that are holding up Lyft's operations in Buffalo and Rochester too, and Lyft makes it sound as though some regulations will need to change around insurance before it can start up again in those locations.