State officials fight against controversial alternative to taxi cabs

Updated: 07/14/2014 6:09 AM
Created: 07/12/2014 10:52 PM WHEC.com

The company is called Lyft, and the State Attorney General wants to put the brakes on its operations for good.

The company says it recruits drivers using their own cars to pick people up. People request rides using an app on their smartphone. Lyft rides are given in exchange for a suggested donation.

Authorities say that Lyft started operating in Rochester and Buffalo back in April and violates state and local licensing and insurance laws.

Lyft’s planned to open another service in New York City, but a court order stopped them dead in their tracks.

A lawsuit filed with the State Supreme Court says in part:

“Lyft set up shop while defying every law passed whose purpose is to protect the people of New York.”

The State Attorney General says the ride-sharing service violates the law and doesn’t have a license to operate in New York.

Some local cab drivers say the pink mustache bearing cars are taking their business.

“I pay $550 a year to the City of Rochester for my license. They don’t have a license, so they’re stealing our jobs,” said Daniel W-Marim, a taxi driver.

Lyft matches prospective riders with local drivers via their smartphone. The company says it’s not a taxi service, so it shouldn’t have to abide by the same rules like not having the proper state license, regulated background checks or commercial auto insurance.

One Lyft driver says the company offers a good alternative to cabs.

“It’s great for students who need the flexibility in their schedules, so I hope it is something they can continue to do. I hope they can work something out so that the service doesn’t end here,” said a Lyft driver who didn’t wish to be identified.

A state Supreme Court will decide on Monday if Lyft can continue to operate in Rochester and Buffalo.

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