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?