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Lyft's New York Launch Halted By Restraining Order 92

Posted by timothy
from the restraining-competition-is-more-like-it dept.
Forbes reports that Lyft's planned expansion into the New York market has been delayed by a restraining order. The article explains that State officials had asked Lyft to delay its launch. When Lyft refused, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office filed a temporary restraining order against the startup Friday morning to prevent its launch. Other statements said that the restraining order had been granted, though Simpson said that was untrue. Lyft and officials will reconvene in court Monday for a hearing. Lyft will not launch until it has reached an agreement with the city, Simpson said. Since Monday, when Lyft announced it was planning to launch in the two boroughs [of Queens and Brooklyn], the app has faced criticism from city officials. The taxi and limousine commission declared the app 'unauthorized' and said its riders were at risk and its drivers could be cited and fined if they were caught using it. Lyft seems to have left riders mostly unscathed in Boston, where it's been operating since early last year, and in numerous other cities. Also at Ars Technica.
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Lyft's New York Launch Halted By Restraining Order

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    They should have offered a free 40oz soda to the first 100 riders.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      You're behind the times. In Texas we can get the mega 64oz drinks in about every gas station, 7-11 and liquor store. 40oz is so right coastal.

  • If the USA is the bastion of freedom, capitalism and independence, why are cab licenses limited by city bureaucrats? Why not let everyone who qualifies swim in the taxicab business leaving those who cannot stand the waters perish? I just don't get it!

    • I just don't get it!

      Follow the money. Selling taxi medallions is a huge source of revenue and graft.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I just don't get it!

        Follow the money. Selling taxi medallions is a huge source of revenue and graft.

        You are half right. Businesses LOVE government regulation and artificial limits because it restricts competition.

        Incumbent businesses do NOT like free markets. They want the market free for THEM and only THEM.

        Does anyone REALLY believe we live in a free market economy and a democracy?

        We live in a crony capitalistic society with a monetaristic democracy - the more money you have, the more "votes" you have - thanks to Super PACS.

      • by Swave An deBwoner (907414) on Friday July 11, 2014 @08:18PM (#47435905)

        Follow the money. Selling taxi medallions is a huge source of revenue and graft.

        That is true but the summary refers to Brooklyn and Queens, a.k.a. "outer boroughs" (anything that isn't Manhattan). The outer boroughs now have "Green Taxis" which do not bear medallions, and there are about 15,000 of them so far:

        http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/shl_passenger.shtml [nyc.gov]

        NYC also has "livery" cabs which can be summoned via phone, in contrast to "taxis" which are hailed on the street. Livery cabs don't bear medallions either.

        The concerns about Lyft and Uber probably is more about the proper training and licensing of drivers, liability insurance coverage, adherance to laws (like non-discrimination in picking up passengers, and like fair labor practices). Not medallions.

        • by euroq (1818100)

          proper training and licensing of drivers

          In the two major cities that I've lived in (in the U.S.), cab drivers are hands down the worst drivers on the road. Usually they didn't grow up in the U.S. and therefore don't drive the same. America has its faults, but we drive comparatively well compared to the rest of the world.

          An interesting anecdote from a friend of mine who moved here from South America told me how he was amazed how everyone here follows the rules. He observed a thug-looking fellow bellowing loud music and smoking a joint in his car,

          • by Endlisnis (208453)
            Obviously, you meant "compared to 3rd world countries", because when you compare the US to other 1st world countries, it does pretty poorly. Canada, most of Europe, even the Czech Republic has fewer road fatalities (per car) than the US.
    • by alen (225700)

      low end job where if too many people go into it, a lot will lose money as supply outstrips demand

    • I just don't get it!

      Citizens won't pay taxes to fund the things they want like roads, parks and sewer pipes, so city governments have to come up with alternate funding mechanisms such as hotel taxes and taxi medallions.

      When alternate services like Airbnb and Lyft come along, that funding decreases - Rather than raise taxes or let potholes grow (and be turfed from office) they attack the services that are cutting into their revenue.

    • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Friday July 11, 2014 @08:36PM (#47435979)

      If the USA is the bastion of freedom, capitalism and independence, why are cab licenses limited by city bureaucrats? Why not let everyone who qualifies swim in the taxicab business leaving those who cannot stand the waters perish? I just don't get it!

      Because historically taxis have engaged in a number of fraudulent and unsavory practices, outright racism in some cases and have generally made cities look bad. So there was a legitimate reason to regulate them in order to ensure that they didn't bilk (or take the long route) for gullible tourists, refuse rides to people of the wrong color, install fake meters, organize into a racket to overcharge customer or skip on carrying decent insurance.

      Then, lo-and-behold, the well-meaning regulators were captured [wikipedia.org] by the taxicabs (because they were smart) and turned around and instituted any number of illegitimate regulations designed to stifle competition. This is generally pretty easy in a democracy because when there's a small number of cabbies with a very large interest in certain policies, they can often get their way when there are a large number of citizens with contrary interests. It's the law of diffused costs versus concentrated benefits.

      So now, instead of being predictably idiotic with our left/right pro/anti regulation, maybe we should think about stupid regulation versus smart regulation. Then we could distinguish a rule require cabbies to carry insurance for their passengers with one that limits the number of medallions to some artifical number. Or one that requires accurate metering of any form with one that requires a specific brand or type of metering. Or a law that requires cabbies to serve any part of the city with one that requires them to drive home from the airport empty instead of picking up a fare immediately after dropping one off (this one really I don't understand -- there is a line for cabs at the terminal!).

      On the other hand, nah, let's just hurf about it....

      • maybe we should think about stupid regulation versus smart regulation

        YES thankyou for saying this, you are amazing. Everytime I hear someone engaging in an argument saying, "regulation is bad!" "no, regulation is good!" I hang my head in wonder at the stupidity involved. Couldn't it possibly be that there are some good regulations, and some bad regulations, and that the wise choice is to both oppose and favor regulations at the same time?

        • I'm pretty sure the "regulation is good" crowd are only talking about good regulations. They are not an equal and opposite side to the libertarians who are not simply against bad regulations but all regulations. (Except for the ones that they feel protect them personally.)

          • I'm pretty sure the "regulation is good" crowd are only talking about good regulations.

            Maybe you are that way, in which case I applaud you. I've spent too much time trying to get people to admit that there are some regulations that we should get rid of. It's rather annoying.

            The worst is when two of those people get in an argument and say, "we need more regulation!" "no, we need less regulation!" and you're sitting there watching, thinking, "hey, how about considering each piece of regulation individually? Because chances are we need more good regulation, and to get rid of bad regulations."

      • by spitzak (4019)

        Thank you for some insight!

        But no, we can't post anything that might hurt the feelings of both the left and right. Much better to make one happy and one miserable. Who cares if the truth is in the middle?

    • by PPH (736903)

      Because historically, the response to unfettered competition in New York City involved bodies floating in the East River. Either the city 'manages' the market using regulation or Vinnie and Guido do it with steel pipes.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      Why not let everyone who qualifies swim in the taxicab business leaving those who cannot stand the waters perish?

      1) Do you really want two-ton land missiles driven by desperate people who are driven to cut corners to stay competitive?

      2) More generally, as you noted, a competitive market is a swim-or-sink situation. That means profit margins will get razor-thin. That sounds awesome until you realize that wages are also a form of profits. In other words, a competitive market is good for customers and horribl

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        1) Do you really want two-ton land missiles driven by desperate people who are driven to cut corners to stay competitive?

        You mean like taxicab drivers? No. We should do away with them immediately.

        More generally, as you noted, a competitive market is a swim-or-sink situation. That means profit margins will get razor-thin. That sounds awesome until you realize that wages are also a form of profits.

        So your argument against permitting people to hire their services is that it will threaten others' wages? Congratulations, you just cast your vote for no progress ever. Please move back into a cave, and give up your PC.

        • So your argument against permitting people to hire their services is that it will threaten others' wages? Congratulations, you just cast your vote for no progress ever. Please move back into a cave, and give up your PC.

          There was no logic in that statement whatsoever.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          So your argument against permitting people to hire their services is that it will threaten others' wages? Congratulations, you just cast your vote for no progress ever. Please move back into a cave, and give up your PC.

          Strictly speaking, I don't need a PC to stay alive and capable of working. That means the PC is a luxury; I have one because at some point of my life, I had spare income. That, in turn, is an inefficiency - I could had undercut other workers by asking for less. So, if you advocate a perfectl

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Strictly speaking, I don't need a PC to stay alive and capable of working. That means the PC is a luxury; I have one because at some point of my life, I had spare income. That, in turn, is an inefficiency - I could had undercut other workers by asking for less.

            Sure, if your only goal is efficiency. But if it is, you're boring.

            • by ultranova (717540)

              Sure, if your only goal is efficiency. But if it is, you're boring.

              You're the one who claimed any inefficiency means "no progress". So I guess I'm arguing with a boring troll. Bye.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                You're the one who claimed any inefficiency means "no progress".

                I did not use the words efficiency or efficiency. You might want to work on your reading ability. It's not able, and you're not reading.

      • This is the reason why people have so much debt: the entire economy has become a "competitive market" where those participating in it - employees - barely survive, no matter how much it produces.

        No, people have so much debt because they insist on buying things they can't afford. No, you really don't NEED a Tesla. Or even a new car. A five-year-old used car will do fine. Nor do you NEED the latest tech toy. Etc, etc, etc.

        Now, admittedly, Fed policy with regard to the Housing Bubble (basically, pump mon

        • by ultranova (717540)

          This is the reason why people have so much debt: the entire economy has become a "competitive market" where those participating in it - employees - barely survive, no matter how much it produces.

          No, people have so much debt because they insist on buying things they can't afford. No, you really don't NEED a Tesla. Or even a new car. A five-year-old used car will do fine. Nor do you NEED the latest tech toy. Etc, etc, etc.

          So do you agree with me? Because you seem to be saying the same thing I did: employees

      • by euroq (1818100)

        1) Do you really want two-ton land missiles driven by desperate people who are driven to cut corners to stay competitive?

        We already have those. They're called taxi drivers.

  • by waynecollc (3743151) on Friday July 11, 2014 @07:14PM (#47435625)
    "The taxi and limousine commission declared the app 'unauthorized' and said its riders were at risk" I lived in NYC on and off for most of a decade and I can assure you that as a pedestrian the act of stepping into the street was a game of roulette and that yellow cabs were the greatest cause of un-safe living. I can hardly think of anything more hazardous for your health than for NYC to prop up a crony monopoly of yellow cars and all that comes with it. Continue to disrupt, fellow entrepreneurs!
    • There is the issue of properly trained drivers for these services, but of course, surely these companies will come up with a legitimate way to fix this. These private companies can also be thought of as a way to encourage the public taxi systems to improve to remain competitive.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I lived in NYC on and off for most of a decade and I can assure you that as a pedestrian the act of stepping into the street was a game of roulette and that yellow cabs were the greatest cause of un-safe living.

      Having visited NYC, I was always impressed at the intelligence of the average New Yorker. For example, nobody crossed streets except in ungodly, massive herds - solid walls of human flesh - that would surely do significant damage to a cab, even if it led to a few dozen casualties.

    • I lived in NYC on and off for most of a decade and I can assure you that as a pedestrian the act of stepping into the street was a game of roulette and that yellow cabs were the greatest cause of un-safe living.

      This is a common sentiment, but it has been proven to be a myth. People just think cabs are disproportionately responsible for pedestrian injuries because it's easy to lump them into a group, but you're actually roughly 6 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed in New York City by private cars. (Note that NYC has well over 100 pedestrian fatalities per year.) For more details, see here [nytimes.com]:

      Throughout the city, 79 percent of the serious crashes involved private passenger cars; 13 percent involved taxis or livery cabs; 4 percent involved trucks; and 3 percent involved buses.

      The story notes that at certain times of day, taxis can make up almost 50% of traffic on the streets downtow

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When is a 'startup' no longer a 'startup'?

  • Otherwise known as, "regulation to keep the competition out".

    It seems to me that the tendency to over-regulate in order to give advantage to existing market movers simply isn't justified. Yes, you need to deal with liability, but there's nothing that says that over-regulation is the only (or the best) way to do it.

  • Garbage bag filled streets, the smell of garbage, stupid bridge tolls just to get to Manhattan from the airport and rude people. Visiting NYC once was enough for me for a long time. Attention New Yorkers and New York bureaucrats, you are destroying your local economy with your idiotic short sightedness. Nobody wants to visit your city if you are going to make it a horrible experience.
  • The best corrective action is to find a candidate who understands the Technology Economy for each office, especially, executive offices like AG. Get them elected. Get the Governor to appoint young smart technology knowledgable people to commissions and move forward. The old white guys can either get on board or get out of the way.
  • by theNAM666 (179776) on Friday July 11, 2014 @07:57PM (#47435803)

    Are you kidding? The last guy who picked me up at LGA barely managed to communicate with me in Farsi -- neither my nor his native language, took the long way on the BQE to Williamsburg, then got lost-- fortunately, in the Hasidic sections (at least *I* would have been safe on the streets). Managed to rack up an extra $20 on the meter compared to a cab service while doing it, and drove in a manner that suggested he couldn't maintain a license in Mexico City.

    Give me a Lyft driver anyday compared to the typical NYC borough cabbie.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Gotta love those LGA taxi rides, full of bumps, extras and routes to nowhere. Just like EWR. It's all a racket and Lyft along with Uber are going to erode the Taxi Commission revenues as well as those of the yellow cab consortia.

    • Last time I took a taxi, I asked the driver, "take me to a crepe restaurant!" The driver had no clue. I'll bet a Lyft driver would do much better
  • Disrupted! (Score:1, Troll)

    by Aineko (3743161)
    It's all fun disrupting until dad loses his job. But seriously, I really don't understand why ppl like the new monopolies soo much. Uber, Lynch, ... whatever,all the same. They take the business of companies that do the work while they just play the new middleman and take a ridiculously big cut. For now, they use the suckers that want to work for them, until they can replace them with google cars or something like that. I don't have any problem with the future or anything but don't act like they are the
  • Whether a driver and a passenger decide to hook up and drive around together via an app should be nobody's business. Attempting to regulate this is just an attempt by entrenched special interests and their cronies in city government to block competition. Kick these jerks out next election.

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