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In its largest expansion to date, rideshare company Lyft launched service in 54 cities Thursday, including Pensacola. The company has expanded service to 94 new cities since the beginning of the year.

Much like its larger competitor Uber — which has operated in Pensacola since December 2014 — the Lyft app matches users who need a ride with drivers using personal vehicles. The two apps work nearly identically: a user simply inputs a destination and a method of payment, and is then matched with a driver willing to take them. The services have gained popularity in recent years because of the ease of hailing a ride and automated payment.

So-called “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft have been a hot-button issue in Pensacola, with traditional taxicab operators charging that the companies aren’t following the law. Cities and states across the nation and around the world have grappled with similar issues, as the taxi laws on the books long predate the emergence of smartphones or ride-sharing apps.

“In just the first two months of 2017, we’ve introduced Lyft to nearly 100 new cities, thanks in large part to today’s launch,” said Jamie Raczka, Lyft’s head of early stage markets and expansion. “We look forward to continuing this rapid momentum, bringing Lyft’s safe, affordable rides to even more cities this year.”

Pensacola customers are able to book rides beginning Thursday. New passengers can use the code LYFTLOVE17 to receive $5 off their first Lyft ride anywhere, officials said.

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