State orders ride-sharing service to cease operations

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A popular ride-sharing service in Buffalo has been ordered to stop operations, but locally Lyft appears to not be following that directive.

The state sent a cease and desist letter to Lyft’s CEO in San Francisco. The ride-sharing service has caught on the Queen City because of its convenience and cheap prices, but there have been concerns about safety and regulations.

New York State’s Superintendent of Financial Services wrote, “Lyft’s ongoing law violations will not be tolerated and must halt until its programs comply with New York law.”

In a statement to News 4, a Lyft spokesperson said they are working to resolve the issues. News 4 asked if they’ll continue operations in the meantime. The spokesperson simply said,”Yes.”

Bill Yuhnke is the President of Liberty Cab in Buffalo. He opposes the ride-sharing service.

“I don’t agree with everything that’s in the law, for ground transportation and taxi cabs, but I abide by them,” Yuhnke said.

The main issue surrounds insurance. The state says Lyft has failed to provide any documentation showing its New York State drivers are, in fact, insured. That’s something cab companies have to do.

“We pay over $5,000 to $6,000 per car, in insurance. Our drivers are licensed. You have to have a chauffeur’s license in the State of New York and they don’t play by those rules,” Yuhnke said.

According to the state’s letter, Lyft has refused to provide a copy of its insurance policy, calling it a “trade secret.” The state says if the company does not stop all ride-sharing operations, they will be forced to take appropriate action to protect New York consumers.

The state did not say what that appropriate action is, or when it would be imposed.

News 4 asked Yuhnke if Lyft has cut into his bottom line, but he wouldn’t say. Yuhnke said he’d have a better idea when students return, and business isn’t in the slow season.

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