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Lyft Comes to Miami.

A New Ridesharing Service Will Change How You Get Around Miami
May 29, 2014 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local NewsMiami: Travel News  | 5 Comments

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The surly Haitian cab driver has been put on notice.

Lyft, the ride sharing system that’s sort-of revolutionized short-trip car services in 61 cities already has finally made it to Miami. Because just like with every other trend, we’re last to the party.

So what is this pink-mustachioed messiah, come to save Miamians from the armies of yellow cabs with mysteriously-inoperative credit card machines? Officially Lyft is a mobile app for people looking for rides with background-checked drivers who take them for rides in their personal vehicles.

Yep. Their personal vehicles. So you may find yourself strapped in next to a car seat or sharing the back of a minivan with moldy scuba equipment. There’s no guarantees

HOW DOES LYFT WORK?

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Say you’re sitting in South Beach and need a ride home to West Kendall. You just open up the Lyft app on your smartphone, press the giant green button, and much like a Tinder for cars it’ll show you which drivers are the nearest-by.

Lyft will then show you a picture of the driver and his or her car, so if you’re not comfortable sharing the back of said minivan with moldy scuba equipment, you can decline the ride and be matched with a different driver.

Once you find a driver that works for you, select that driver and you can track their route towards you and ETA at your location. So unlike that friend who says he’s “5 minutes away” when he’s really pulling out of his garage, a Lyft driver can’t bullshit you.

Your driver will call you when he or she is en route, though you’ll generally know they’ve arrived when you see a car with a giant pink moustache on it creeping up.

Get in the car and fist bump your driver. No, really, that’s the protocol, you greet your driver with a supper bro-ish fist bump. Then sit wherever you like, though again Lyft encourages you to sit in the front.

At the end of the ride your app will tell you the “suggested donation” for the ride, which is calculated like this and is typically about 20% cheaper than a cab. You can also increase or decrease that amount as you see fit.  Your credit card is already on file with Lyft, so it just charges you automatically and no cash exchanges hands. Like the complete opposite of Miami cabs.

Does this potentially mean you could still your driver without repercussion? Yep. And Lyft was founded in somewhat-honest San Francisco, so it reasons this “honor system” worked there. We shall see how it does when drivers have to start picking people up in Hialeah.

At the end of the ride you rate your driver and the driver rates you, so other drivers know if you’re the guy who stiffs people on the bill. And visitors, be aware, that rating goes with you back home so unlike that waiter you stiffed at lunch, there are lasting consequences.

YOUR NEWEST PART-TIME JOB

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Being a Lyft driver is right up most Miamians’ alley, since it involves working whatever hours you want and making unlicensed, unofficial money. Within a year, it may eclipse “something with real estate” as the most popular occupation in Miami. Who knows.

In order to drive, you must first submit to a background check that screens you out for vehicle-involved felonies, violent crimes, drug convictions, sex crimes,  and DUIs. Drivers may also have no more than 2 moving violations in 3 years, and no major violations in that time as well.

You must also be over 23, have held a valid US license for one year,  have valid insurance and a car that’s 2000 or newer. That car also must pass a 19-point inspection to be allowed into the Lyft fleet.

And as long as you have the Lyft app turned on your phone (essentially like a taxi’s “on” light) you are covered by Lyft’s comprehensive insurance coverage. Though, again, they may not have counted on the Miami-gut reaction of becoming a driver to get better insurance, then crashing your car.

If you are interested in becoming a Lyft driver, you can get more info here.

WHERE IT GOES
Technically Lyft will pick you up pretty much anywhere in Dade County. Though, much like with taxis, there are certain neighborhoods drivers may opt to avoid.  Here’s a map…..
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You can take the ride up to 60 miles, so if you’re trying to get to Ft. Lauderdale airport, it’s as good an option as a taxi. But Lyft won’t pick you up at FLL since that’s out of the coverage zone.

No rules have been handed down as to whether Lyft will be prevented from Port Miami or Airport pickups, but as of right now you can get a Lyft when you arrive at less than the cost of a cab.

HOWS THIS LEGAL?

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In case you missed it, Miami has not exactly been receptive to alternative car services. Uber was effectively blocked from running its cut-rate car service here last winter, and when Lyft announced it was coming to Miami most figured they’d meet the same fate.

The difference here is that Lyft is not a certified taxi or limousine company. The drivers are not professionals nor do they have any sort of licensing past a regular driver’s license. They are, in essence, a community of people giving rides to each other and collecting gas money in the form of “donations.” Which, somehow, fits within Miami’s existing laws.

Will it forever? Who knows. If Lyft takes off (sorry) and taxis see a decline in business, it would surprise exactly nobody if the county commission somehow found a way to close this loophole. But maybe the competition from ride sharing communities will force taxi drivers in Miami to be just a little bit nicer and maybe, someday, finally get those credit card machines fixed.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News, Miami: Travel News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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5 Comments on

"Lyft Comes to Miami."

Steve says:

“They’re,” not “there.” “Stiff,” not “still.”

Only 20% cheaper than the expensive cabs we have in Miami? I’m not sure that it’s worth the effort.

Posted on 05/30/2014 at 7:11 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Not sure where you saw the “they’re” there error. The other one’s a typo.

It’s actually LESS effort than calling a cab.

Posted on 05/30/2014 at 9:43 PM

sirobvious says:

its all good till someone commits a crime using this app.

Posted on 06/07/2014 at 6:03 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Well apparently EVERYONE using this app is committing a crime since the city is impounding Lyft vehicles. YAYYYY Miami!!

Posted on 06/08/2014 at 9:00 PM

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