If you know me, you know I love Lyft, the community-powered transportation system. Basically, it’s an app you use to connect with a network of drivers, cars garnished with giant and furry pink moustaches. You open Lyft, request a driver, then the nearest driver’s photo, name, car, and estimated minutes to your location pop up on your phone. Boom. Done.
You get a text when the Lyft arrives, and once you’re at your destination, you fist-bump, hop out, and pay later via the app. There’s a suggested donation, but you can adjust up or down, depending on how rad your driver was, then rate them on a 1-5 scale. I’ve always upped the donation. Lyft drivers are some of the most interesting, friendly people I’ve met in this town, and in LA, that means a lot.
But in Los Angeles, cab drivers aren’t adjusting to the competition. They’re trying to shut the service down, going to City Hall and insisting Lyft be held to standards of taxi services. Never mind that Lyft is in complete compliance with city car service requirements, and each driver and incident is insured for one million dollars.
Cabs in Los Angeles are a broken system. From personal experience, I know. Imagine a totaled vintage Jaguar. Destroyed by a United cab driver. Realize the driver has no insurance– and that his cab company refuses to accept responsibility by using a workaround, similar to Walmart’s aggressively assholish part-time wage slavery: if cab drivers are employed less than a certain amount of hours, they are part-time. The cab company then does not have to cover them. Insurance is then the drivers’ responsiblity. Many of the taxi drivers you see in Los Angeles are uninsured and part-time, who risk lives and propery damage, recklessly crossing lanes and tailgating cars.
The LyftLove community came out to support Lyft this week, sharing stories, meeting the founder, writing letters to Mayor Garcetti, and some of us… like me… spoke on film to cement our support for the service. The very idea that cabbies– aggressive drivers who refuse to take passengers’ desired routes, complain about credit cards, and often take hours to arrive on weekend nights– have the audacity to insist a superior business model be destroyed simply because it’s improved upon their outdated model, is laughable. If it weren’t so serious. So I’ve turned into a Lyftvangelist.
Keep Lyft Alive is a blog featuring stories on how Lyft has affected Angelenos. From elderly parents being able to safely complete errands, to safe partying, to the simple act of human connection, Lyft is a true community service. Did I mention you pay what you want?
Lyft uses resources we already have (people with cars), connects them at a fair rate, and is safer and more secure than taxis or public transit. If I need to leave a situation, I know a Lyft driver will be there immediately and take me anywhere I need to go. After my 24 hour airport ordeal trying to get from Miami to Los Angeles, Ryan, the driver picking me up at LAX handed me a krispy, bottled water, and charged me half of what a taxi would have. It was relief incarnate. When I’m going out, I refuse to risk a DUI. I use Lyft. If my friends drunkenly insist on driving, I can call them a Lyft and then pay for it once they get home safe.
Lyft drivers will even pick people up from bus stops when they’re not active with a fare. The drivers are some of the most interesting, friendly people I’ve met in this town, and in LA, that means a lot.
If it’s not working (taxis), fix it (Lyft). Live, learn, and optimize.
Edit: Just realized I’m gracing a #WhyILyft promo, so here’s what it’s all about: Your Lyft stories can inspire change! Head to Twitter and Instagram to tell your story using #WhyILyft to show policymakers how Lyft benefits you and your community.