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New Mexico State Regulators Order Lyft to Stop Operations

May 22, 2014 4:00 am

Skift Take

If we hear Lyft or Airbnb say they want to help their providers “help make ends meet” one more time, we’re going to pull out our hair.

— Jason Clampet

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Beck Diefenbach  / Reuters

Similar conflicts have appeared elsewhere. Here San Francisco taxi driver Joel Sanchez shows his opposition to Lyft in San Francisco, California. Beck Diefenbach / Reuters


State regulators on Wednesday ordered the new Internet ride-sharing service Lyft to stop operating in New Mexico.

During its regular meeting, the Public Regulation Commission issued the order against smartphone-app-based Lyft, which just started operating in Albuquerque three weeks.

Commission staff requested the cease-and-desist order until Lyft officials respond to allegations the service is operating illegally.

Officials with the San Francisco-based Lyft said they didn’t have chance to respond to the allegations before the commission voted.

The commission did not discuss rival ride-sharing service Uber, which also launched a few weeks ago, before the vote on the cease-and-desist order for Lyft.

“Lyft passengers in Albuquerque are excited about this new safe and affordable transportation option, and drivers are enjoying the ability to earn some extra money to help make ends meet,” Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in a statement. “We will continue to work with local officials in hopes of reaching a solution that prioritizes public safety, expands consumer choice and encourages innovation in the state of New Mexico.”

The entry into the transportation marketplace by companies like Uber and Lyft has left state legislators and local officials struggling to catch up with emerging technology that competes with traditional taxis and limos, but with less overhead. The drivers of the new companies, for example, use their personal cars and often do it for extra cash to supplement their income at other jobs.

Several state legislatures this year have tried and failed to pass bills to provide oversight for the so-called ridesharing companies. Taxi and limo companies have objected, arguing the web-based businesses have an unfair advantage and light regulation. Several municipalities nationwide are also grappling with the issue.

A bill that Colorado lawmakers passed this month, expected to be signed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, will allow the companies to continue to operate in the state. Without a legislative fix, the companies faced formal complaints from the state’s public utilities commission, which has maintained that Lyft and Uber’s lower-cost carrier, UberX, have been operating illegally.

Colorado’s attempt at regulation is the first to come out of a state legislature, according to research from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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