Court blocks ride-share operator Lyft in New York

A court on Friday ordered ride-share operator Lyft to scrap a launch in New York until it can satisfy local safety and licensing requirements.

The state court's temporary restraining order came hours ahead of the planned release of Lyft, a ride-sharing service that operates in 60 US cities and competes with the likes of Uber.

New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and financial services superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said they sought the court order after talks broke down with Lyft.

"As a result of that action, the court has granted the state a temporary restraining order preventing Lyft from launching this evening in New York City," the officials said in a statement.

"We pursued this action only after repeatedly offering to work with Lyft in order to ensure that its business practices complied with the law.

"We are pro-innovation and pro-competition, but allowing Lyft to flout dozens of different laws would, in addition to putting the safety of New Yorkers at risk, put law-abiding competitors at a substantial disadvantage."

Lyft said this week it had recruited 500 drivers in the Big Apple and that 75,000 New Yorkers had downloaded its mobile application ahead of the launch.

San Francisco-based Lyft contends the service, which uses a smartphone app and geolocation, is needed and saves money for consumers.

But the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission quickly sought to put the brakes on the new service.

The municipal agency said Lyft "is unauthorized in New York City" and has failed to comply with safety and licensing requirements.

The squabble over Lyft is the latest in a simmering war that has played out in cities around the world, where new car-dispatching apps have been challenging regulated taxi services.

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