The Internet and smart phones have made it easier than ever to track your flight, find a couch to crash on for the night and, now, you can even make new friends while running your errands with Lyft. This ride-share app allows you to get a ride from participating drivers for small donations, and Lyft has recently expanded from 36 to 60 markets. Those 24 new markets include small towns and bigger cities all over the United States, and Lyft might just provide you.
How Lyft Works
For passengers, using Lyft requires that you enter credit card information. Every time you need a ride, Lyft uses your location to find the nearest driver. You can track their progress as they make their way toward you. Lyft relies on donations — it does require gas to provide someone with a Lyft, after all — and you pay those through the app. No cash or credit card numbers exchange hands, which adds safety.
Drivers can sign up for the Lyft program. After a thorough background check because Lyft is concerned with safety, you’ll be inducted into the program. When you’re available to drive, you’ll receive notifications from nearby riders who need to be picked up. Unlike a taxi service, your passengers aren’t relegated to the back seat, and you might even make a new friend by providing such a service!
Both drivers and passengers can rate one another. Think your driver was too aggressive? Did your passenger need to pay more attention to personal hygiene before leaving home? You can simply rate those people with fewer than 3 stars, and you’ll never be matched again. Lyft also has extensive liability insurance, which is a must with an operation like this and makes it safe to use.
Lyft’s New Markets
Lyft isn’t new, but it’s certainly growing exponentially. Even Conan and Kevin Hart have used the service according to Mashable! Lyft started as Zimride in San Francisco in 2007, and has since expanded to metropolitan cities like San Antonio, Los Angeles and Seattle. The recent expansion includes smaller markets such as Jacksonville, Florida and Ann Arbor, Michigan. The entire list of new markets is as follows:
- Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Fairfield County & New Haven, Connecticut
- Fresno, California
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Louisville, Kentucky
- Modesto, California
- Newark & North Jersey
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
- San Bernardino, California
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Buffalo, New York
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Corpus Christi, Texas
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Lexington, Kentucky
- Lincoln, Nebraska
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Rochester, New York
- Spokane, Washington
- Toledo, Ohio
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
For the most part, these aren’t major cities, and Lyft provides another option for passengers without access to a car or public transportation.
Taxi Services and Competition with Uber
Part of Lyft’s success has been the low price of donations, which are about 2/3 the price of a regular taxi fair, and Fearless Dollar has done the research. With the recent expansion, prices dropped even more in existing markets according to TechCrunch. In small cities where public transportation is lacking. That’s part of the reason why we haven’t seen Lyft take off in New York City. Subways, taxis and bus system provide more than enough for people who don’t drive. And who would want to in NYC? However, legalities also play a role.
While San Francisco’s mayor declared July 13th as Lyft day, taxi companies have bristled at the thought of new competition — and competition that isn’t governed by taxi laws. Some politicians and business owners view Lyft as providing taxi services without abiding by the laws that actual taxi companies have used. Right now, Lyft exists in a grey area as Dan Solomon explained in an excellent article in Texas Monthly.
It’s not the only company to do so, either. If Lyft sounds familiar, it might be because it’s not the only ride-share solution on the market. Uber already exists and has existed in around half of the markets that Lyft recently expanded to. Lyft will have to carefully manage competition from both the taxi industry and Uber to be successful.