Cities around the country and world are increasing taking advantage of new technologies and new ridesharing companies such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar. So should Tacoma. I tried Lyft out last weekend in Seattle, it worked like magic. The car came within 2 minutes.
Lyft is a privately held, San Francisco–based Transportation Network Company whose mobile-phone application facilitates peer-to-peer ridesharing by enabling passengers who need a ride to request one from drivers who have a car. Unlike traditional taxis, Lyft drivers do not charge “fares” but receive “donations” from their passengers. Lyft’s tagline is “your friend with a car.” According to the company, Lyft generally costs about 30 percent less than the price of a similar-length cab ride. Lyft currently operates in 19 cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego,Sacramento, Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Baltimore, Phoenix, St. Paul, Indianapolis, Nashville, andPittsburgh with plans to expand both domestically and internationally.
Since its launch, Lyft has exploded in popularity, growing to more than 100,000 registered users and facilitating more than 30,000 rides per week within its first 12 months. The service has more than 300 drivers in San Francisco alone, who report earning as much as $30 to $35 an hour.
One key to Lyft’s success has been establishing trust among its users. Lyft claims that its safety precautions are more stringent than those performed by taxi and limousine companies, and that it only accepts 6 percent of its driver applicants. Beyond requiring every driver to join Lyft through their personal Facebook account and subjecting drivers to a 5-star rating assessment from passengers following each ride, the company carefully vets potential Lyft drivers through performing the following additional screening functions:
- DMV and criminal background checks
- In-person interviews by Lyft employees
- Vehicle inspections and a two-hour training and safety session
- Drivers must be 23 years or older and have a driver’s license for more than 3 years;
- Zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy
Granted, ridesharing services will not fulfill all of Tacoma’s transportation needs, however, they have the potential to play an important role. Even the protectionist city of Seattle is allowing them.
Ridesharing services are a great deal for cities as they:
1) Give drivers a higher wage.
2) Reduce car dependence.
3) Reduce the cost of transportation.
4) Allow more people more options so that they feel comfortable using a car less or not at all.
5) Reduce the number of parking spaces required in a city.
6) Reduce congestion, exhaust and pollutants.
7) Reduce the fare by approximately 30 percent.
7) Make navigating a city easier, making a city like Tacoma more attractive to visit and live in
Hopefully, Tacoma will have the advantages of ridesharing companies soon as other model cities already have them.