- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Ride-booking service Lyft says it’s suspending operations in New Mexico after state regulators passed new requirements that the company called “onerous.”

The San Francisco-based firm set a May 14 deadline for the move, which comes weeks after state regulators passed a set of rules for ride-booking services that include drug-testing requirements for drivers.

The Public Regulation Commission guidelines “make it nearly impossible” for drivers “to thrive on a peer-to-peer platform,” Lyft said in a statement.

Firms such as Lyft and Uber use mobile apps to connect people seeking rides with available drivers. Both had been operating in New Mexico despite complaints from taxi companies, which said they were skirting the law.

Uber has called New Mexico’s new rules unreasonable and urged the state to reconsider, but it hasn’t indicated plans to end operations in the state.

Spokeswoman Taylor Patterson said in a statement that more than 40 jurisdictions across the U.S. have developed “commonsense regulations that recognize the unique nature of ridesharing” and she called on New Mexico regulators to “do the same and pass reasonable regulation that protects jobs and preserves the ability of New Mexicans to access safe, reliable rides.”

Regulation board Commissioner Valerie Espinoza said Lyft’s departure comes in spite of the panel adopting rules intended to appease the company.

“Even with that, it still wasn’t enough,” said Espinoza, who thinks ride-booking services should be governed by the same rules as taxi and limo services.

The legal status of Uber and Lyft had been in limbo since they began offering services in the state last year.

The businesses say the state’s Motor Carrier Act doesn’t apply to them because neither operates as a commercial taxi business. They consider themselves technology firms and want to be regulated as such.

Lawmakers failed to pass a bill on the issue, and regulation commissioners voted last month on the new rules.

Republicans blamed Lyft’s decision on Democratic in the state Senate.

“Keeping and producing more decent-paying jobs is an important issue to many people, yet we saw political tactics in the New Mexico State Senate block real progress on this issue,” Pat Garrett, spokesman for the Republican Party of New Mexico, said Wednesday.

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Follow Russell Contreras at https://twitter.com/russcontreras

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