Following a Manhattan Supreme Court judge’s decision forcing Lyft to comply with heightened operating criteria or face a potential shut down, the company continues to seek support for its ride-sharing app in public-transportation starved neighborhoods like Greenpoint in hopes of ultimately launch the model it successfully operates in over 65 US cities.
In an agreement reached last Friday, Lyft will allow the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to test its app and approve how drivers are dispatched before a contract is signed.
In addition, the Manhattan Supreme Court asked Lyft to show TLC that its drivers have the requisite insurance coverage required for them to continue providing service in Rochester and Buffalo.
Lyft has until Friday to comply, but the organization is continuing to work at a grassroots level to find a solution.
On Tuesday, Lyft sponsored an event hosted by the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce at Charlotte Patisserie on Manhattan Avenue.
The organization used the occasion to raise awareness of its app, and the benefits it brings to a community terribly underserved by public transportation, and which starting this week will be affected by a five-week shutdown of the G-train.
“That’s one of the problems we are trying to solve,” said Paige Thelen, a spokesperson for Lyft in regards to underserved neighborhoods. “The event at Charlotte gives helps us in our goal of bringing community members together. In fact several small business owners in other cities work as drivers for Lyft to supplement their jobs.”
Representatives from the organization encouraged potential supporters to sign a Change.org petition, which has already received closed to 10,000 signatures from the city’s residents for the app to move forward as it has in other cities.
In cities where the ride-sharing app is fully functional, interested drivers can sign up to participate; customers contact drivers directly through the app, and payment is made as a donation for the service received, as opposed to a fixed rate.
TLC has expressed concern that this might compromise safety.
But at Tuesday’s event, Lyft representatives once again stressed the thorough and rigorous nature of their screening process including strict background checks, maintaining high customer approval ratings, vehicle inspections and a $1 million insurance, which is $700,000 more than the city’s minimum requirement for taxis.
Greenpoint business owners and residents at least were eager for the app’s launch in its entirety.
“We’re not car owners but we’re considering using the service,” said Greenpoint Chamber member Timothy Mullins, one of the attendees at Tuesday’s event. “The fact that it is internet based is kind of cool. Subway is a hassle and using Lyft would be less of a hassle.”
“I like the option that you actually contact a driver and the person can come to you,” added Lauren Lawson, another attendee and a Chamber of Commerce member.
There is no official date for the launch in the city yet, but Lyft representatives at Tuesday’s event were hopeful that it would be within the next couple of months.