Now that California has decided to officially regulate ride-sharing apps like Lyft, Sidecar and uberX, expect to see a lot more service cars on the horizon. But will they continue to congregate in wealthy neighborhoods like the Westside or West Hollywood, or will the service branch out?
Reddit user hyypaa, who claimed to be one of Lyft's drivers, took to Reddit's Los Angeles section for a quick AMA (Ask Me Anything) session recently and addressed one of Lyft's most annoying aspects: coverage only from the Westside to downtown LA.
Hyypaa explained that while drivers were restricted when it came to pick up locations, drop off locations could be located outside of the official coverage area if drivers feel up for a longer journey.
For instance, hyypaa explained that someone could get a ride from Santa Monica to Long Beach, but not the reverse. The only exception could be if a Lyft driver already happened to be in the area because he or she was there dropping someone else off.
"We can hang out in Los Feliz and you can request us if we are near there, but we can't go past the 5 unless it's a passenger's destination," explained hyypaa. "If a driver happens to drop someone off in Glendale, you can request them, but we are supposed to immediately head back to the official coverage area."
Lyft's official coverage area is part of what angers critics from California's taxi industry, who say that Lyft and other apps have an unfair advantage because they aren't forced, like regular taxis, to service LA's lower-income neighborhoods or passengers with disabilities.
"We do not pick and choose passengers," wrote Hyypaa, trying to address the controversy. "A passenger's wealth has no weight on if we'll pick them up." However, when asked explicitly about "bad" neighborhoods, hyypaa had this to say:
"We have every right to cancel on a request if we feel the situation is unsafe due to the passengers, route, or destination. We are only reprimanded if there is a continuous pattern of canceling or not accepting requests."
When it comes to money, Lyft drivers are guaranteed at least $15 per hour and up to $25 per hour during "power hours," but they're responsible for their own mileage reimbursement. Reddit user lateone pointed out that the federal reimbursement rate driving is 56.5 cents per mile, which means that gas and car maintenance could be costing drivers about $10 to $15 per hour -- painting Lyft's lofty pay scale in a more realistic light.
And because Lfyt is technically based on donations, passengers don't have to pay for the ride. But there are consequences to stiffing your trusty Lyft driver.
"If a passenger doesn't pay, their facebook profile, credit card and phone number essentially get blacklisted," writes hyypaa. And as Lyft riders already know, the proper way to pay is through the app's credit card charge feature. That means no cash tips.
Instead of a cash tip, may we suggest indulging Lyft drivers when it comes to their awkward (and mandated) fist bump greeting?
"They officially train us to do it. Sorry," explained hyypaa to one complaining customer. "Email support if you want it to stop," hyypaa wrote to another.
Lyft, which asks drivers to don its signature pink mustache hood ornament, launched in LA back in January. The service, which allows passengers to hail a ride from their smartphone, now employs several hundred drivers, reports the Los Angeles Times.