If you live in St. Louis or Kansas City, you have probably heard about the ride-sharing service Lyft. It has a lot of fans…and a lot of enemies. Me? Well, I guess I’m in the middle.
The basic premise of Lyft is this: I want a ride somewhere. I have the Lyft app and have already created a profile. I request a ride on the app, and someone with a nice car with a pink fuzzy mustache adorned to the front picks me up. I’ve already paid for the ride through the app. The driver and I fistbump and enjoy our ride together. And then I am dropped off and we go our separate ways.
Some of you will probably say, “That sounds like a taxi, without the taxi,” and I would agree with you to a point. Umar Lee is a St. Louis cabdriver that lays out a very detailed response to his thoughts on the service. I think he goes overboard, but I understand his frustration.
I was supposed to be a “founding driver” for Lyft here in Kansas City, and supported Lyft for the following reasons:
1. I am a legitimate businessman with a legitimate business license. This will be a part-time job for me for now…my 3rd job/client. But maybe it will grow to be something great.
2. I have been fingerprinted, background checked, bonded, yadda yadda yadda more times than I care to count. I’d be happy to go through it again for a regulatory commission. Of course, they could easily pull my MVR and background…and they’d find that it is spotless.
3. The taxicab industry in this country is a hot mess, IMO. The drivers are at the low-end of the totem pole. I understand why they are concerned and frustrated…but I think they need to focus their frustration in a different direction.
4. How often do you hear people say, “Oh, I love taking taxis.”? There seems to be a general dislike of them…the condition, the drivers, the pricing, etc.
5. I hate the 1099′ing of our country…but it is the current direction we are headed. If you want to get ahead, you have to fight for yourself. I’m simply trying to find new and legitimate ways to make money. Obsolescence is a bitch…but you have to adapt or die.
6. I go into the worst parts of Kansas City every day and did the same when I worked in St. Louis doing delivery and courier work. I’ll go wherever someone wants to go.
But Lyft isn’t helping its case…and this is why I cannot drive for them:
1. For Lyft to say that they are not a transportation provider at all is dubious. Do I think they should be held to the same setup as taxi services? No. But before you make inroads into a city with a bunch of drivers with pink mustaches on their cars, you should probably touch base with city officials.
2. There is currently a restraining order in St. Louis against Lyft, and their type of service is expressly forbidden by law in Kansas City. Yet they are still doing business in both cities. Look…I’m all about fighting the system, but I am a legitimate business owner. The last thing I need is a citation from the police for operating illegally.
I think Lyft’s concept is cool and I wish them luck and success…but they need to rethink how they operate behind the scenes. Did I mention that I have a Masters degree in Business Management? *hint, hint*