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calendar   Friday - July 11, 2014

Gypsies I Could Live With

Badges? We Don Need No Steenking Badges!

Lyft, a Transportation Networked Service, vows to roll onto the streets of New York City today, despite not having “taxi badges” (medallions) purchased for tens of thousands of dollars each from the NYC TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission, perhaps the 2nd most corrupt quasi-government in America, behind the NYC Port Authority).

Good for them. Sometimes the best way to break a system is just to ignore it. If you’re willing to pay me to drive you around in my car, that’s between the two of us, and the nanny state can go suck eggs.

Despite being chastised by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which declared quasi-taxi firm Lyft as an “unauthorized” firm, the startup says it will go ahead with its scheduled Friday evening launch.

Lyft is a San Francisco-based startup that allows its users to book rides from drivers via its smartphone app, effectively acting just like a taxi service.

In a statement sent to Ars on Thursday, the commission said that the firm had “not complied with TLC’s safety requirements and other licensing criteria to verify the integrity and qualifications of the drivers or vehicles used in their service, and Lyft does not hold a license to dispatch cars to pick up passengers.”

The TLC also noted that “drivers who sign-up with Lyft are at risk of losing their vehicles to TLC enforcement action, as well as being subject to fines of up to $2,000 upon conviction for unlicensed activity.”

Presuming that Lyft drivers go forward, they would not have traditional TLC taxi medallions, and would be effectively considered like the city’s myriad of unauthorized taxis, sometimes known as “gypsy cabs.”

In a statement, Katie Daily, Lyft’s spokeswoman, told Ars that the company was still moving forward despite the commission’s actions.

“Where we differ with the TLC is that we do not believe its licensing and base station rules apply to the Lyft ride sharing model,” she’s said. “We put safety first, and we have made this clear in our conversations with the TLC.”

In NYC, taxis without the official medallion are known as gypsy cabs. Lots of them out on the streets, looking for fares. Are they clean? Are they safe? Are they insured? Tens of thousands of people don’t really care; they cost less. Actually, almost anything costs less than a 10 minute ride in a NYC cab. And they expect a nice fat tip too.

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In September 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency responsible for regulating taxis in the Golden State, created an entirely new class of transit firms, known as “Transportation Networked Companies” (TNCs). This move legitimized Lyft’s operations in California months before New York stymied the startup.

See? It’s only an actual taxi if it’s out on the street prowling for fares. If it’s all arranged ahead of time, by any means at all IMHO, then it’s somebody compensating somebody else for doing them a favor. And the TLC can go take a flyer off of one of the many rotting ferry piers along Manhattan’s west side, all put out of business ages ago when the Port Authority took over all the bridges and tunnels in the city, along with all the ferrys. I think, if they time it just right, one of those piers will be pointing at the moon.

PS - these days, the tolls to cross the bridges or tunnels into Manhattan - $13 for a regular car - are so steep that swimming is starting to look like a good option. Except that the PA has power over every place you’d crawl out of the water, if you made it across. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/11/2014 at 06:12 PM   
Filed Under: • Big BusinessFREEDOM •  
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