Lyft boosts lobbying amid race for driverless cars

Lyft boosts lobbying amid race for driverless cars

Lyft’s federal lobbying skyrocketed in the third quarter of 2016, according to a disclosure form filed by the company.

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The ride-hailing firm spent $100,000 on lobbying efforts during July, August and September. The figure is more than double what Lyft spent in the entire first half of the year, which was a total of $40,000.

The number also represents the most expensive lobbying period that Lyft has reported to date. The company spent just $30,000 in all of 2015.

The spike comes amid increasing competition from ride-hailing companies, tech giants and automakers to bring fully autonomous vehicles to market.

Lyft, which will begin testing driverless cars with passengers by next year through a partnership with General Motors, has said that the majority of the company’s rides will be delivered through a network of self-driving vehicles within five years.

Lyft’s biggest rival Uber has already put semi-autonomous vehicles on the roads in Pittsburgh.

A group of stakeholders and companies, including Lyft, formed a joint coalition to press the federal government to help avoid a patchwork of state laws on self-driving vehicles.

The administration rolled out flexible, voluntary guidelines for driverless car makers and state regulators last month.

In addition to autonomous vehicles, Lyft has lobbied on tax, labor, environmental and consumer safety issues, according to disclosure forms.

During the third quarter, the company also pushed for a bill – passed by the House in September  - to ensure federal employees are reimbursed for ride-hailing services when on official government business.

This story was updated at 5:36 p.m.