<-back to main page
P2p Transportation Comes To Boston With Lyft
by Brad Hines 6-19-13 1: 05 pm
There is a peer to peer ride service that just came to Boston called Lyft. The recently $60-million-dollar-infused startup (courtesy of VC Andersen Horowitz) hopes to turn the Taxi service of Boston on its head by using the peer-to-peer transportation model in order to reduce the cost and availiblity of a taxi ride by proliferating the amount of drivers, all of whom will be using their own cars and operating with no cab medallion. Lyft is competing in Boston with competitors SideCar and Uber.
Let me back up first and point out that the service is part of a larger digital technology trend right now, which is peer-to-peer social technology–peeople conducting commerce directly with other consumers. Some examples of that would be popular housing hosting website AirBNB, peer-to-peer lending sites like Prosper, and Peer to Peer file sharing which has been around for over a decade now (remember Napster?)
So in the P2p transportation model–as I will refer to it from here on out–the model is exactly what it might sound like, people are driving around other people.
What is interesting about the transportation model, in the case of Lyft anyway, is how they seem to be circumventing certain laws, in a bit of a loophole yet to be seen how will play out legally. The year old startup that has now come to Boston as of June, is already well established in places like L.A. and San Francisco and has unsettled legal troubles in those places. State legislature in California already is accusing Lyft of operating as a taxi service, which the company is denying on grounds that they neither own the cars deployed, nor are they employing the fleet of drivers. Rather they are claiming that they are a broker in the P2p business.
Patrons of Lyft are asked to donate money to pay for their ride. It is entirely up to the persons receiving the ride for how much to donate. A Lyft representative informed me that "the average donation is working out to be about 10-20% less than what folks would be paying for a traditional taxi ride."
|The entire Taxi service industry has been asleep since Lyft took off. I was wondering how long it would be before a backlash begun, and I have heard some Lyft drivers say that Taxi drivers have even started stealing and burning their pink mustaches!
In a very eBay like manner, the drivers and passengers rate each other using mutual feedback. If a driver's rating ever dips below four and half stars, they are pulled from the program.
Shreyans Parekh, the director of marketing for Koyal Wholesale, who used the service a few weeks ago on a business trip to Seattle had this to say on the ride sharing model:
"The peer to peer ride sharing model does have long-lasting appeal, as long as the price points continue to stay low and service is constantly being improved upon."
Reading up on the difference between Lyft, and say, Uber; the former is trying to improve upon their model indeed. It would seem that Lyft is trying to differentiate themselves by imbuing a hip, social, and laid back element to their brand. Take for instance the usual greeting that Lyft drivers are encouraged to use–the fist bump– and as well the trademark pink mustaches Lyft asks the drivers to emblazon on the grill of the car.
William McCormick who works in PR in the technology sector says:
"The entire Taxi service industry has been asleep since Lyft took off. I was wondering how long it would be before a backlash begun, and I have heard some Lyft drivers say that Taxi drivers have even started stealing and burning their pink mustaches!"
Interested in how one becomes a driver for Lfty, I had a company rep take me through the process. I wondered if I could do it. Do you own a four door sedan? Check? Less than 2 points on drivers license in last few years? Check. Car newer than 2001? Barely, but check. Lyft also meets with drivers in person and has other kinds of semi-strict standards like your rating from passengers as I mentioned.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out with its legal loophole, and if it will be able to maintain operations without drivers having a medallion. In the mean time, look for the pink 'stache.