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Lyft brings low-cost car service to Brooklyn and Queens

Photo courtesy Lyft
Lyft car service

We mustache you a question: Wouldn't you love a car-service app that allows you to snag a ride for a cheap fee or donation? Well, you're in luck. Lyft, a hail-a-ride start-up founded in San Francisco, is bringing affordable car services to Brooklyn and Queens this Friday. Just look for the puffy pink mustache on every Lyft car—drivers use it to identify themselves.

Though it sometimes may not seem like it, Manhattan yellow cabs are like rats on subway tracks: They're everywhere. Because of this, Lyft has chosen to focus its services in boroughs outside Manhattan: specifically Brooklyn and Queens. Lyft will be going up against the well-established Uber, which just announced it'll be cutting its fares by 20 percent. But with Lyft giving out free rides during its first two weeks in NYC, Uber will have a real competitor on their hands. Lyft is planning to have 500 drivers available by the time the service launches this weekend, with rides ranging up to 60 miles in any direction.

The major difference between Lyft and Uber is that the former doesn’t employ any official cabdrivers or limo chauffeurs. Instead, Lyft is all about recruiting everyday people. As long as you're willing to do background check (because safety!), and have your own car and a current license, you're eligible to earn some extra cash as a Lyft driver. Riders should note, however, that Lyft is currently in "ongoing discussion" about its move to New York due to the fact that the company doesn't yet have a license to operate here. Luckily, the TLC's spokesperson, Allan Fromberg, seems to have a positive outlook on the new app-based car service. The TLC has an "impressive track record when it comes to embracing new technology and transportation options,” he told Time in an e-mail.

Despite the questionable legality, Lyft will be launching in Brooklyn and Queens on Friday. And you know we could use some extra cars there.

“Those are the areas that are most underserved by public transportation,” John Zimmer, Lyft’s chief executive, said in an interview with The New York Times. “There’s a huge need to unlock the city for people who want to access it at a lower price point.” Preach, Lyft, preach.

UPDATE Thursday July 10

The Taxi and Limousine Commission have stamped a big ol' NO on Lyft car service, calling the hail-a-ride start-up an "unauthorized service" and deeming it illegal just two days before pink mustaches were set to to take the streets.

“Lyft has 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,” said the commission in a statement released to The New York Times.

Lyft had more than 500 people in Brooklyn ready to to give on-demand rides to strangers through their app services, in cars identified with a pink mustaches on the front. This would have been the business's biggest debut to date, but now those drivers will need to find a new gig.

“Unsuspecting drivers who sign up with Lyft are at risk of losing their vehicles to the TLC enforcement action, as well as being subject to fines of up to $2,000 upon conviction for unlicensed activity,” the commission said. Womp, womp.

Uber went through similar red tape with the TLC when they first arrived in the city, so Lyft is hoping to overcome this setback. For now, though, don't expect to see any pink mustaches roaming our Brooklyn roadways.

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