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Pink fluffy Mustaches Everywhere!
If you’re a regular pedestrian on the streets of San Francisco you can’t help but notice more than 300 cars proudly brandishing bright fluffy pink mustaches announcing their ride sharing status for the 18 month old company Lyft. The trending popularity and swelling momentum for ride sharing seems to have shifted towards Lyft despite the company occuping the industry with other similarly focused companies such as Uber and SideCar. Fueling the growth for Lyft can be attributed to a combination of the company’s innovative and modern community centric business model, drawbacks with the current taxi service system, and that pink Ron Jeremy like stache. To better understand these vehicle-for-hire trends we set out on a trip from San Francisco’s SOMA to the Mission district to judge the overall cost and quality of both experiences.
SOMA to Mission – Meet Max!
After downloading the Lyft app on our iPhone we filled out our billing information and quickly requested a driver from our current location. As our current SOMA position is in a “Hot Zone”of drivers we were able to secure the nearby driver Max with an estimate arrival of 3 minutes. We watched his car icon on the Lyft iPhone app approach slowly to our location. Soon, thereafter his Honda Odyssey pulled over to nearest shoulder and the automatic doors opened. When we stooped inside we were greeted by a friendly face and a Obama popularized fist punch. We gave him an address in the Mission district and were quickly on our way.
Upon first glance we noticed a clean interior, the complimentary bottle waters and our friendly driver. Noticing his inviting demeanor we asked him a multitude of questions about his own occupational history, the benefits of the services and his own personal experiences with his passengers. My own concerns about passenger and driver safety were quickly quenched when he explained how the combination of the initial driver verification process and the two way rating process ensures the highest quality of both drivers and passengers. Both parties can be reviewed out of the Lyft system if their star rating sinks lower then a set threshold of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Consequently, it is in the interest of both parties to create positive experiences to one another less they be weeded out of the Lyft community. Within a short period of time our destination was reached, our ride ended, and the only exchanges we made to the driver were a load of smiles and a fist punch. Soon after descending on the side walks of Valencia and 22nd, the Lyft app displayed our 12 dollar travel bill which we aptly paid.
SOMA to Mission – Meet umm …
As soon as we finished our meaningful business in Mission we hailed one of San Francisco’s 1,735 taxi cabs. An esoteric blue Toyota Prius shortly pulled up near our feet. The vehicle’s stark interior was dark, cold and had a slight cigarette fragrance but was generally clean. The driver was quiet, disconnected and silently received our requests to travel to our desired destination in SOMA district. My female associate felt uncomfortable from his rear-view mirror stares which I did not notice but regardless we missed Max. Notwithstanding a couple of jerky movements and hard accelerations the drive was unmemorable. We arrived at our destination, paid our 12.20 fare with our credit card and we were on our way.
So what do we learn
In our first experiences with Lyft, our initial concerns about the safety of passengers have lessened and we believe Lyft’s bidirectional rating system might encourage a higher set of quality when compared to traditional taxi service. And since the largest group of people using Lyft’s service are females between the age of 18 to 35, we believe this higher quality is one of the driving factors for Lyft’s surge of popularity. In addition, even though the fare differences were negligible in our short trip, Lyft’s current fees should generally be 10 to 20% cheaper for longer waits and trips. However, despite the advantages of peer to peer ride sharing systems they do not guarantee driver availability which is a limitation to consider for planned trips to the airport and to any other time sensitive destination. We do think all the spontaneous driver requests from late yoga students, lost tourists and intoxicated partying locals will surely find Lyft very useful and safe.