All hail is breaking loose in New York City.
Two companies are coming to the city to let people catch a taxi ride on their smartphones a day after Uber decided to trim rates 20% to undercut yellow cabs.
Lyft, a ride-share company that lets drivers who pass its muster use their own cars to pick up extra cash, announced Tuesday its debut Friday at 7 p.m. in Brooklyn and Queens. Meanwhile, an app that connects people who want to split a taxi, Cab With Me, said it will launch here in August the earliest.
San Francisco-based Lyft will have about 500 drivers participating in Brooklyn and Queens, a spokeswoman said.
"Lyft provides greater access to a safe, affordable personal transit alternative that is built for New Yorkers, by New Yorkers," the company wrote on its site.
The fares are donation-based, though Lyft does suggest a price; both driver and rider then rate each other. A Lyft rep said 4.4% of applicants nationally become drivers and that the company does background checks, vehicle inspections, and requires drivers to have $1 million in liability insurance-requirements that the company says are tougher than yellow taxi rules.
But unlike Uber, which uses black cars from bases, Lyft operates outside Taxi and Limousine Commission regulation, putting its drivers at risk for getting their vehicles seized for being an unlicensed livery vehicle under agency rules and city law.
A TLC official rejected Lyft's contention that its process is more stringent than the one for licensed drivers and their vehicles. The official confirmed that TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi and staff met with Lyft Tuesday to operate according to regulations.
"We're still hopeful that Lyft will accept our offer to help them do the right thing for New York City passengers as they should, but New Yorkers can rest assured that the TLC will do its job and take the actions necessary to protect them," Joshi said in a statement.
An Uber spokesman Lane Kasselman said its sucess is "due in no small part to working in coordination with the city." Uber, meanwhile, said it agreed to nix its surge pricing during emergencies and natural disasters.
"This agreement also serves as a model for the kind of effective collaboration that should exist between government and technology companies like Uber," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
But if New Yorkers and visitors are looking for a way to cut down on the price of a good ol' fashioned taxi, there is Cab With Me, a company that aims to facilitate taxi sharing.
"We quickly match you with other riders based upon the proximity of your route and time," said Cab With Me president, Josh Wittman. "You can then enjoy the speed and safety of a cab ride knowing that you will be splitting the fare at the end."