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Fares fair, says New York: Lyft finally gets in gear for the Big Apple

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Ride-sharing service Lyft has agreed to a deal with New York officials to allow the company to open shop in New York City.

The company said that as of 7pm local time on Friday it would launch in Brooklyn and Queens, two weeks after a last-minute legal threat from the state Attorney General forced the company to hit the brakes just hours before its scheduled opening.

Both the company and Attorney General announced the deal (PDF) in which Lyft will operate within New York under full compliance with local taxi regulations. The Lyft service will be limited to commercial drivers within NYC immediately and throughout New York State by 1 August.

"We are pleased that our offices have reached an agreement today with Lyft," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

"We are firmly committed to the notion that regulators can work constructively with companies so that new ideas can come to the market - and that smart regulation should create an environment where innovators can compete."

Lyft had been embroiled in a legal wrangling with state and city officials over the legal status of its service, which allows users to hire out their services to others as drivers. The New York Taxi and Limosuine Commission (TLC) had filed suit to block the service on the grounds that Lyft's amateur drivers were operating taxis without licenses from the city.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lyft will only allow commercial drivers to operate its vehicles and will agree to only provide drivers with insurance coverage that complies with both state and local regulations.

"We've finalized an agreement to offer immediate access to our friendly, affordable rides through a TLC-licensed model beginning at 7 PM," the company said in a blog post.

"Lyft will serve all corners of the city from Manhattan to Staten Island, starting with a limited beta launch and then a full rollout in coming weeks."

The legality of ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber continues to be a topic of debate in cities around the world as local governments have struggled to define whether the ride-sharing services should fall under the jurisdiction of conventional taxi and car service regulators.

Even with Lyft's latest deal, that debate is likely to drag on for some time. ®

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