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Lyft suspending service in Rochester

Rochester, N.Y. -The pink mustaches will soon disappear from the front of vehicles riding around Rochester. The mobile app-activated, ride-sharing service, Lyft Inc. will suspend its operations in Rochester and Buffalo August 1st.

The agreement, filed in New York Supreme Court Friday, is part of a compromise the San Francisco based company made with the state of New York to allow Lyft to begin service in New York City.

Rochester Lyft driver Carl Fuehrer said, "At night time, the evenings people are coming home from work, going out to bars, it's been great for people."

Since Lyft started service in Rochester in April, it's averaged about 100 rides a month but Feuhrer said business really just started to take off.

He puts the pink mustache on his car on nights and weekends but his wife now drives full-time.

"It's kind of doubled our income and it's nice to have that extra money coming in. It's a great service for people too, especially a lot of students we get a lot of times," Fuehrer said. 

Lyft recommends rates to its costumers but drivers are paid by donations.

"Somebody can actually give us no money whatsoever, sort of like we just gave them a ride for the heck of it so it's not like a fare right now like a taxi cab driver or a limo driver would have," Feuhrer said.

That is the loophole that allowed the company to operate without the licensing, registration and insurance coverage required for taxi drivers. The state of New York claimed the company was operating as a taxi service illegally.

The Attorney General filed suit July, 11, right before Lyft was supposed to launch in New York City.

"I'm still not seeing the argument here as long as someone is getting home safe--I mean maybe they can figure out the fine print later," Lyft customer Steve Bauer said Rochester will miss the ride service.

Jaime Defazio said she's used the app multiple times, especially when out in the city.

"You kind of have to call cabs in Rochester so they're not as easy to find. Lyft you just go on the app and it shows you how many drivers are in the area and you just tell them that you need them to come," Defazio said.

To get a ride home from the bars or anywhere around Rochester, people have started to rely on Lyft.

"There is a bar crowd, there is a getting out of work crowd, going to work in the morning crowd so it's a mix of everybody," said Ron Culp, a Lyft driver. 

Customers said Lyft is cheaper and quicker than a taxi cab.

"They love it," Feuhrer said, "it keeps them a little safer so they're not driving or having to find a ride from someone else, get them home safely as best we can."

The same day Lyft suspends service in Rochester, the company will launch in New York City with commercial drivers only and will operate in a manner that is consistent with existing laws and regulations.

It will leave some people without rides and about a dozen local drivers out of work. With no timeline for the suspension, Feuhrer said all he and his wife can do is wait.

"Now she's got to figure out if she's going to get a part-time job, a full time job, what's she going to do? Feuhrer said, "So it is a concern of mine but I know that hopefully things will get worked out soon," Feuhrer said.

The company plans to continue to work with the the Attorney General's Office and Department of Financial Services to align New York State's insurance laws and regulations with its ride-sharing app to try to restore service in Rochester and Buffalo and it continues to expand across the country.

Lyft released this statement Friday: Now that we've outlined a path forward with state leaders, we will work together to make peer-to-peer policy progress as we have in numerous other cities and states.

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Washington Times