Lyft agrees to licensed drivers amid negotiations

Rogue ride-sharing company Lyft Monday said it will use properly licensed drivers while continuing efforts to bring its donation-based “peer-to-peer” service to the city.

“We have agreed to begin operation in New York City with [Taxi and Limousine Commission] licensed drivers as a first step forward, while vigorously pushing for a peer-to-peer model through the proper channels,” spokeswoman Erin Simpson said in a statement.

Lyft, a competitor to Uber, an e-hail taxi and livery app, tried to launch its service in Brooklyn and Queens last week, but delayed its debut when TLC threatened to seize drivers’ cars. Drivers sign up with Lyft and use their own cars to pick up riders, who pay a suggested donation instead of a fare, with both sides rating each other. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had sought a restraining order against Lyft in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Justice Kathryn Freed told both parties Monday to work out a deal or keep argue over the restraining order on Friday. Freed allowed Lyft to keep operating in Rochester and Buffalo in the meantime. The attorney general’s office declined to comment.

TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said that while Lyft would still be out of compliance with agency rules, “Lyft remains committed to working within the law, and we are pleased to work with them as they navigate the process.”

In court papers, the attorney general said Lyft had “thumbed its nose at the law” and called its operations a “for-hire livery or taxi service” at its core, but without commercially licensed vehicles or drivers.

The company, in opposing the restraining order, accused the attorney general’s office and the state Department of Financial Services of trying to “destroy Lyft’s business without due process” with “unfounded” misrepresentations and allegations.

Still, Lyft’s spokeswoman said negotiations will continue.

“We expect and hope that all parties will collaborate together with the goal of creating a framework for this model which Lyft operates in more than 65 cities to come to New York City,” she said.