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Municipal government / Startups / Transportation

Lyft ridesharing startup asked to respond to Yellow Cab’s challenge

In a letter order issued Nov. 26, the Maryland Public Service Commission requests that Lyft respond to a letter sent by Yellow Transportation asking that that ridesharing service be ordered to cease operations in Baltimore city.

Lyft. (Photo by Flickr user Alfredo Mendez, used under a Creative Commons license)

On Oct. 18, a letter was sent to the Maryland Public Service Commission on behalf of Yellow Transportation asking the PSC to order Lyft to “cease-and-desist operating in Maryland pending satisfaction of all regulatory requirements.”
The PSC took up the matter at a Nov. 25 administrative hearing, and — in two separate letter orders issued on Nov. 26 — instructed Lyft to “respond to Yellow Transportation’s filing by close of business” on Dec. 17, as well as respond to another filing submitted by the Office of People’s Counsel, the state’s utility consumer advocacy office.
As Baltimore reported in early November, the battle over ridesharing in Baltimore city is just now hitting its apex. Regulators and established taxi companies maintain that Uber and Lyft ridesharing services are unregulated cabs, while the two startups claim that they provide better, faster and cheaper services and satisfy the safety regulations required to operate commercial car companies in Baltimore.
No cease-and-desist orders have been issued — although Uber was subpoenaed for a list of its drivers — but it appears that the PSC is willing to work with Lyft. From the letter order:

[T]he Commission directed Lyft to discuss the possibility of entering into an interim agreement with the Commission Staff that would provide for protections related to the safety of drivers and passengers, vehicle safety and inspections, and adequate insurance. Baltimore has contacted the Maryland Public Service Commission about what the “interim agreement” will entail and will update this post when we receive word from the PSC’s transportation director.

Companies: Lyft / Maryland Public Service Commission / State of Maryland / Uber

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