Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lyft, a do-it-yourself cab service, now underway in DC

Getting a @lyft with @dogkiwi and @hollymac. #lyfteratti There's another shared service in the city: Lyft, where people can sign up to be cab drivers when they want. The cars get pink mustaches to attach to the front, and other day I spotted one in our neighborhood.

It's kind of an interesting idea, sort of like Uber but person to person -- you download the app, say you need a ride, and folks who have signed up and have a car can accept your offer and take you where you need to go.

You (as the rider) then rate them on the app and give them a donation in lieu of payment (which is, as I understand it, a way to avoid all the rules of actually paying.) But if you don't donate very much, presumably you won't be able to get rides in the future.

ElevationDC reports that drivers must pass an interview and a background check, have a car with all the necessary inspections, and that the service has a very big insurance policy on its drivers. The Lyft website has more, including that the drivers must not have more than 2 moving violations and no DUIs, violent crimes, sex offenses, thefts, property damage or felonies on their record.

They're recruiting drivers and looking for folks to be fares too. Drivers can make up to $35 an hour and work when they want. It's an interesting model (though it's maybe not that new, as DC has long had "slugs," or people who get rides to work with strangers in order to let the drivers use the HOV lanes, albeit mostly without payment.)

I don't know if the drivers will actually know how to get where you want to go, but then again, that also happens with DC cab drivers. (Once I had to explain what RFK Stadium was and give a cabbie directions there -- mindblowing.)

There's another similar service operating in the city called Sidecar, and I've heard of others for sharing tools and the like. (This Economist article has a lot more about the so-called "sharing economy.")

So what do you think, have you or would you take a Lyft ride or a Sidecar? Or sign up as as driver? It seems like a good way to make money for folks who freelance or don't have a steady job.

Photo by lizasperling 


  1. Their ads on Spotify are the most grating thing to listen to, like nails on a chalkboard. I will use them if they get rid of the irritating voice looking for drivers.

  2. I want to address clearly to all drivers who are currently in the "ride sharing" programs such as Lyft, Sidecar, Uber, etc; in the event of involving an auto accident, your current PERSONAL AUTO insurance will not be able to cover you.

    If you are with Farmers, please reference your personal auto manual A12-a, unacceptable list #13

  3. In no event will Sidecar be responsible for any damages (including personal injury, death, property damage, lost time or wages, etc.) Resulting from or related to a ride facilitated by the Service, or for resolving any disputes between you and another user. You hereby agree that your use of the Service is at your sole risk.

    It is Sidecar's one of terms.

  4. One of Lyft terms

    Such Driver will be solely responsible for any and all liability which results from or is alleged as a result of the operation of the vehicle such Driver uses to transport Riders, including, but not limited to personal injuries, death and property damages.

  5. Insurance plays a big part in the emerging "sharing economy" and I am sad to say that the insurance companies are notoriously slow in adapting to new markets. Relay Rides (in San Fran) is the only ride sharing based startup that has successfully made headway in this area.

    I'm currently trying to secure insurance on my neighbor-to-neighbor startup, and it has been slow going.

    However, I do love all the levels of innovation out there in the ridesharing space. Wish them the best of luck.

  6. Nice article, but i have question why you said if we don't donate much
    won't be able to get rides in the future. When we already payed for service.


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