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Lyft Reaches Deal With City and Will Launch Friday, Company Says

By  Paul DeBenedetto and Aidan Gardiner | July 25, 2014 1:16pm 

 Lyft said it would abide by TLC regulations and state laws when it launches Friday.
Lyft said it would abide by TLC regulations and state laws when it launches Friday.
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NEW YORK CITY — The ridesharing app service Lyft will launch in the city Friday night after resolving a dispute with the city and state, the company said.

The cars with their distinctive pink mustaches will begin offering rides in some areas at 7 p.m. with more coverage throughout the city in the coming weeks, the company said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

"Now, residents and visitors looking to travel between boroughs, get to the closest subway station or head out for a night on the town can easily request a safe and reliable ride," the company said.

The San Francisco-based outfit had hoped to launch its on-demand ride service on July 8 with passengers in Brooklyn and Queens hailing "volunteer" drivers and paying a "donation" rather than a fare.

But both the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission and the state's Attorney General said that model violated various insurance and safety regulations and threatened Lyft with a restraining order.

Lyft, after days of talks with city and state officials, altered its model and said it would abide by existing laws and regulations.

"We are firmly committed to the notion that regulators can work constructively with companies so that new ideas can come to the market — and that smart regulation should create an environment where innovators can compete,"  the Attorney General's office said in a statement.

"Lyft's launch in New York City — in full compliance with laws and regulations — is proof positive of this principle."

As part of the agreement, Lyft drivers will be licensed by the TLC, be drug tested, get finger printed, submit to background tests, take out TLC-approved insurance policies and provide "equivalent service" to passengers with wheelchairs, among other things, the TLC said.

Lyft also said it would halt its operations in Buffalo and Rochester by Aug. 1 as it continues to work with the government during the New York City roll-out period.

"We look forward to bringing the most affordable options to the areas that need them most, powered by their local residents," Lyft said in its statement.