Competition Is Disrupting Ground Transport Businesses: Lyft Bringing Low Cost Transportation to Orange County

Regular readers know I’m a fan of Uber. I wrote about the ‘car on demand’ via smart phone app for the first time last year in Why Taxis Suck and What You Can Do About It.

The model isn’t limited to black cars, several companies are revolutionizing taxi service to be able to call them with a couple taps to the phone, track them on your screen, and complete the transaction with a simplified payment process.

And some of these companies are letting anyone who passes safety and responsibility muster into the transportation business — taking their cars and free time and connecting them with people who need rides. In doing so, they’re driving down the cost of transport.

I’ve written most about Uber but I love competition. I also love to see this space grow because with multiple players it’s easier and more likely to get reform of laws that protect incumbent interests and keep prices high. I wrote this summer about San Francisco airport trying to crack down on these services. Monday the L.A. Airspace blog wrote about LAX looking the other way and not enforcing their rules against these types of offerings.

Given how contentious they’ve been, it’s great to see that Lyft will be starting service in Orange County within a couple of weeks. (It may launch even as early as this coming weekend, I hear.)

Here’s their coverage map:

Credit code JFWS6X in the payment setup process will give you a free $10 credit before your first ride request. It’s valid anywhere Lyft operates. (This is not a referral code, just $10 to you.)

Orange County airport is included in the initial coverage area, as well as the coastal area from Huntington to Newport to north of Laguna.
Anaheim/Disneyland and Fullerton should be included in the near future.

The “coverage area” only means the drivers have to start in that area. They can take requests outside of the area. Drivers will take you up to 60 miles, farther is at the driver’s discretion. (Drivers can pick passengers at the Orange County airport and drive them to Disneyland, or even downtown Los Angeles.)

Suggested fares are generally 10-40% cheaper than a taxi, and passengers can adjust the price up or down.

Drivers are vetted by criminal background check, driving history check, vehicle inspection, confirmation of registration and insurance. On top of the driver’s insurance Lyft adds $1 million liability coverage for the passengers.

Have you used Lyft, UberX, or Sidecar or similar services? What’s been your experience?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. In my experience, Uber sucks. You posted a couple of days ago about Uber with a sign up link that didn’t seem to work well. The only solution it seems is canceling Uber and re-registering in hopes the link will catch.

    Uber’s website states they have no phone support, but respond to e-mails and tech support requests FAST. Well, their definition of fast blows. Three working days have last and they have still not responded or acted on my request to close my Uber account. WTH can I trust them to send a car to pick me up on time if they lie about their support response times?

  2. Uber works. I lost a phone in an uber vehicle and by the next morning I had the phone number of the driver – by afternoon I had my phone back (never happens in NYC). Prices are a bit higher than normal taxis but all the drivers are so polite and have clean cars. I miss relay-rides!

  3. A bit higher? I was just quoted $100 to travel a few miles in the heart of Silicon Valley. Are there tricks to using the service I’m missing?

  4. I have used all of them and and in general I like the experience but be forewarned that they tend to manage your wait by exaggerating their arrival time during times of high occupancy which might leave you waiting longer than anticipated even though you can see the location of the pickup vehicle on the app…..I suggest always calling the driver immediately upon ordering the service to make sure that he/she is indeed on their way!!! The convenience factor is pretty nice need to tip or have cash or a credit card makes the process efficient and easy..whay havent taxi services figures this out yet….must be dinosaurs!! LOL

  5. Used both Uber Black car service, and UberX in Brooklyn this past weekend. Can’t rave enough for the quality of their service. Landed at LGA and ordered a black car. Got an SUV at the black car price. Great driver, and fast service-he was at the pickup lane in 2 minutes. Used UberX (to try it) on a return from Williamsburg back to my hotel. Arrival within 5 minutes in a large Lincoln sedan (can’t remember the model, sorry). Spacious, clean, comfortable and a great driver.

    Uber is a bit more pricey than a taxi service, but I don’t have to flag one down and the cars are as nice as I would keep them. On top of all that, billing is automatic to the credit card on your account.

  6. UberX recently did a trial in LA where they dropped their normal rates by a quarter, to compete with Lyft/Sidecar. The quality of service vs. the cost of the fare is unbelievable. Depending on traffic, $17-22 to go from Westwood to Playa Vista (vs. $30 or $35 in a cab) and a minimum fare of just $3.

    I use the service extensively in DC and LA, and I’ve found it to be nothing short of revolutionary. Lyft is interesting because they do personality tests as part of the interview process, so you get someone who’s fun, but not necessarily as professional.

  7. Uber dropped its prices for UberX to only $2 a mile, which is pretty cheap. I still only try to go short distances only.

  8. I live in San Mateo and fly out of SFO three weeks out of every month. I was very loyal to my cab company until I found out about Uber. I use UberX and the cost of my ride to SFO from downtown San Mateo has decreased at least $10.00 from using a cab. And I have never had a problem getting a car – the longest wait has been 10 minutes. My husband I use Uber to go into the city, particularly if we are going somewhere where parking is going to be a problem or we are staying overnight at a hotel or having a late dinner with drinks.
    And while the cab company I used for years always had great drivers, many cab drivers HATE going to the Peninsula from SFO and would be rude after they found out they had to go 15 minutes south. Uber drivers are friendly, polite, provide water, newspapers and the music you want to hear. And you get to rate the Uber driver after the trip and the best part – no money changes hands.
    And we did have an experience where we left a camera in a car. I emailed Uber, they got back with me, provided the telephone number of the driver and it was resolved within 24 hours. I’ll take Uber any time.
    I read Uber is in Paris now and we plan try it when we are there at Christmas. If they are as good as those in the Bay area, it will be a bonus…

  9. Got the $35.00 discount for Uber so thought I might as well give it a try one day when my sister and I were in need of a ride downtown. Fabulous response time, great driver, lovely car, simple interface, all seemed wonderful. I said we needed a ride back and he suggested that it would be cheaper for him to wait for us rather than get another car. So we did that. I asked the driver how much he thought it might cost (since there’s no meter, etc). and he thought about $38.00 round trip which seemed perfect to me and about the same as a taxi. Much to my chagrin when we got home he told us the bill was upwards of $65.00, almost double! Thanks Uber, but that’s the last time we use you.

  10. California has so many shuttle service provider for airport. You don’t have to search for good one..because they all trying to provide best service from each other and this makes the service of shuttles between airports are really good.

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