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Lyft has quite a few bucks to bankroll penalized drivers in NYC for awhile, but this confrontation with the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission is going to heat up and is headed for the courts.
Faced with a New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission warning that it will crack down on Lyft and its drivers if the ridesharing service launches, as promised, in the city July 11, Lyft is telling drivers that it has their backs.
Responding to a Skift tweet asking Lyft’s @Daniel_Illes what will happen if its drivers get penalized by the TLC, Illes responded: “@Skift we are 100% behind them. We’ll carry their costs.”
@skift we are 100% behind them. We’ll carry their costs.
— Daniel Illes (@daniel_illes) July 10, 2014
Lyft thus appears not to be backing down its pledge to launch its service, initially for free, in the city’s outer boroughs July 11, and responded in a statement that the TLC’s rules do not apply to ridesharing, and that the company “will continue to work with all stakeholders to create a path forward.”
“Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ridesharing model,” the company states. “We put safety first, and we have made this clear in our conversations with the TLC.”
In a statement July 9, the TLC warned consumers that Lyft is not authorized to operate in New York City and they shouldn’t get into the vehicles of unlicensed operators.
Such operators and drivers would face penalties, includiing $2,000 fines and the seizure of cars, if they fail to comply, the TLC warned as it promised enforcement actions.
“The city of New York has stepped up as a leader in its support of innovation, and we are committed to working together with all parties to give New Yorkers access to this new, community-powered transportation option,” Lyft states. “There is a lot of hard work to be done in the days and weeks ahead, and we look forward to collaborating with the leaders of this world-class city to find a way forward.”
The TLC vowed to conduct enforcement actions to protect public safety.
“TLC-licensed drivers are reminded that the New York City Administrative Code and TLC Rules prohibit them from accepting a for-hire trip that isn’t dispatched by a licensed base that is held accountable for the actions of its drivers and affiliated vehicles,” the TLC stated July 9.
Lyft counters that it puts “safety first.” A pdf on Lyft’s safety commitment is embedded below.
Here’s Lyft’s full statement on the TLC decision:
“Lyft will offer a new and much-needed transportation option for New Yorkers in the areas of the city where existing options are lacking. This improvement in transportation will provide important opportunities that New Yorkers want and deserve. We’ll continue to work with all stakeholders to create a path forward. Our focus remains on the community, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
“Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ridesharing model. We put safety first, and we have made this clear in our conversations with the TLC. The city of New York has stepped up as a leader in its support of innovation, and we are committed to working together with all parties to give New Yorkers access to this new, community-powered transportation option. There is a lot of hard work to be done in the days and weeks ahead, and we look forward to collaborating with the leaders of this world-class city to find a way forward.
“Today we’re releasing our Safety Commitment. We will never waver in keeping our drivers and passengers safe. This is Lyft’s commitment to our community and yours.”
Competitors Uber and Hailo were approved to operate in the city as part of a one-year trial program that began in June 2013. That trial was extended a second year. Pickups at airports and other exempt areas that require special licensing are still not legal for e-hail apps.