What’s the Latest?
Despite warnings from various regulatory bodies, peer-to-peer ride-sharing company Lyft was planning on making its New York debut this week. The launch has since come to a skidding halt upon news that the New York state Attorney General has been granted a temporary restraining order against the company. Despite billing itself as a way to connect people to “friends with cars,” Lyft has been marked as an illegal taxi service by the the city and state of New York. Gawker (via ValleyWag) has a pretty good summary of the saga, as well as an embedded PDF of the restraining order.
What’s the Big Idea?
Like Uber, Lyft presents itself as a smart new service intent on presenting potential riders a better alternative to taxis. Lyft drivers, easily identified by the large mustaches blocking airflow into their engines, are accessed via a smartphone app and take riders on cab-like journeys to their destination.. This, along with a hodgepodge of other reasons, is what has gotten the nation’s local governments and taxi commissions in such a huff. Simply put, the appeal of these services to customers is that they are, for the most part, unregulated. For governments, cab drivers, and safety advocates, the trouble with these services is that they are, for the most part, unregulated.
While car-sharing services have managed to continue operating in places like Omaha and Washington DC despite opposition, the city of New York does not mess around. How negotiations between Lyft and the city turn out could turn a tide nationally for the future of these services as we know them.
Read more at GAWKER/ValleyWag
Photo credit: Pkg203 / WikiCommons