The delayed launch of Lyft did not stop its launch party from happening or stop the protesters from coming.
While the party kept going, nearly 100 drivers from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance shouted towards the crowd and event organizers.
One protester, Victor, told BuzzFeed that they were protesting the rideshare aspect of Lyft and that it isn't innovation, but piracy of jobs. "We abide by the rules, pay high insurance and leases, have workers compensation, and protect our riders because we are trained professionals," he said.
"Lyft is a multimillionaire corporation. And yet, they don't want to abide by the rules and regulations they should have to go through," he added.
Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, echoed Victor's sentiment.
"It's an anti-worker model and sets back the rights of both workers and riders, " Desai said. The threat is here that they believe Lyft will take away business from their taxi drivers — who are mostly low-income, immigrant workers. Unlike Uber which has worked with the New York Taxi Workers alliance and lets taxi drivers install the app and be hailed by customers, Lyft hasn't even approached the subject."
He added, "It must be an inside joke for multi-million dollar workers to talk about the sharing economy."
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance handed out these flyers explaining why they were protesting.
Why We Say NO to Lyft & Ride Share!
Lyft's Ride Share model is a fast track to poverty!
100,000 licensed yellow, green, livery and black drivers will lose our hard-earned fares! We are among the New Yorkers who can least afford to have our incomes gutted!
For drivers under ride share: There is no Workers Compensation in case of injury or death on the job. There is no temporary Disability insurance in case of off-duty injury or illness. There is no cap on how much Lyft can charge you. There is no commercial insurance to protect individual drivers form losing our entire savings in case of accident. There is no cap on the number of cars set out to compete for dire earnings. There is no training to prepare for the streets of New York.
Ride share drivers take the risk of arrest, fines, car impoundment, and accident claims, and bear all of the costs of daily operation.
The Public Is Put In Jeopardy!
There is no regulation of the fares. Lyft's minimum enter is $8! There is no commercial insurance requirement. There is no inspection of the cars. There is no background check or regulation to ensure public safety.
It's not Ride-Share — It's Ride-&-Beware!
Riders are left unsafe, uninsured, and price gouged.
Drivers are left impoverished & unprotected.
We are pitted against each other for survival.
All of the while...the bosses at Lyft rake in the profits!
Maybe we are not always appreciated, but New York Cit's tax and for-hire services is considered one of the best in the world by many. Whether Manhattan or the boroughs — 100,000 yellow, green, black, and livery cab drivers are here to serve you 24/7.
Come and join our movement!
Lyft has started their own petition asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to "support innovation in NYC transportation."
Some party goers were even asked to sign the petition while they waited in line.
Lyft's Director of Communications, Erin Simpson, told BuzzFeed that the company did reach out to TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi in May.
"We agreed in New York State Supreme Court to put off the launch of Lyft's peer-to-peer model in New York City and we will not proceed with this model unless it complies with New York City Taxi and Limousine regulations. We will meet with the TLC beginning Monday to work on a new version of Lyft that is fully-licensed by the TLC, and we will launch immediately upon the TLC's approval," he said.
SImpson added that many of their drivers use Lyft as a "flexible means to help them make ends meet," and get to keep 80% of their earnings from driving.
Meanwhile, many people in New York City seem excited about the possibility of Lyft coming to the area.
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