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Can Ride-Sharing Startup Lyft Survive the SoCal Heat?

timothy posted 1 year,19 days | from the every-potluck-robs-a-restauranteur dept.

Government 133

First time accepted submitter Kyle Jacoby writes "The app-powered on-demand ride-sharing startup, Lyft, has brought its trademark pink mustaches to San Diego. After a successful venture in San Francisco about a year ago, Lyft has since expanded to offer their services to other congested cities, like Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago. Despite the utility of the service, Lyft (and related services Sidecar and Uber) has recently come under fire from the city of Los Angeles, whose department of transportation issued cease-and-desist letters to the startup. It seems that the service has the taxi community in an uproar, who believe that Lyft ride-share drivers should be required to obtain the permits similar to those required of taxi drivers." Nothing like some regulatory capture for Independence Day. Amid the ongoing strike of BART workers in the Bay Area, I bet some people are using on-line organization tools for ride-sharing with a similar upshot.

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133 comments

Points at Lyft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44189739)

Hideki!

Re:Points at Lyft (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190113)

Moderation -1
  100% Offtopic

Chii... :-(

America SUCKS (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189741)

America is a land of cheese-eating, hot-dog-eating, cheese-eating, hot-dog-eating spies who eat cheese and also, allegedly, eat hbot dogs, in contravention of Universal Law! And San Diego belongs to WHALES, by truth!

Lyft's rating system is bonkers (4, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189743)

"Passengers and drivers rate each other after every ride. If you rate a driver below 4 stars, youâ(TM)ll never be matched with that driver again. If a driver's average falls below 4½ out of 5 stars, they are removed from the Lyft community. It's our way of maintaining high-quality standards."

Can anyone tell me what the point is of a 5 star rating system if anything below 4.5 stars gets you kicked out? All this is going to end up doing is artificially inflating ratings. Basically everyone will be a five star driver or a zero star. It makes no sense whatsoever. I would think any logical system would have at least 3 stratas of "Excellent/Well above average", "OK", and "Average, but would ride with again".

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189801)

well actually no.

if you have 100 five stars, a single 1 star will not get you kicked off.

if you have a single 5 star and get that one, you'll get kicked off.

Its stil bonkers. (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189839)

If you have 100 four stars you will be kicked out. The system is basically saying you need to give any driver you want to keep five stars, all the time. This makes a 5 point rating system pointless and it might as well be a boolean "Keep? Yes / No" flag that is averaged.

Re:Its stil bonkers. (4, Insightful)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190165)

Just like ebay ratings.

Re:Its stil bonkers. (4, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190231)

If you have 100 four stars you will be kicked out. The system is basically saying you need to give any driver you want to keep five stars, all the time. This makes a 5 point rating system pointless and it might as well be a boolean "Keep? Yes / No" flag that is averaged.

People other than engineers do not do the mathematical reductions like this in their head, and then act accordingly.

Personally, I never thought eBay would go anywhere, since it's not actually an auction; the mathematical reduction is "second lowest bid ceiling plus bid increment", given that you can give a bid ceiling, and it will automatically "bid" for you. But seriously, on the back end you could just insertion sort the bid ceilings, look at the first two in the table, and make the decision on that basis. I thought the OnSale model, in which actual bids were being placed, in a non-automated fashion, was more of a real auction, and that they'd own things.

But I had not taken into account that ordinary people don't do the mathematical reduction, and find the convenience of not having to watch their "bids" of more value than the actual "auctionness" of the auctions.

I imagine they have "proprietary" back end safeguards against things like "perpetually lower-than-5-rating passengers, or some other means of throwing out the outliers so that they can keep their driver pool up, in case that ever became a real issue for their business expansion. I suspect at this point, they'd rather have twice as many drivers that are unhappy about being thrown out of that role than they currently have, as a PAC to be able to have an effective block to counter the taxi interests. So if they don't have the rules behind the curtain, expect the rules in front of the curtain to change soon.

Otherwise, it occurs to me that the taxi lobby could have a few people sign up as 5 day a week riders and perpetually rate the drivers "1" in order to reduce the number of drivers below the level of viability by gaming the published rating system.

Re:Its stil bonkers. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44191185)

You think a lot and get nothing from it. Think less sometimes

Re:Its stil bonkers. (3, Informative)

similar_name (1164087) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191971)

Personally, I never thought eBay would go anywhere, since it's not actually an auction; the mathematical reduction is "second lowest bid ceiling plus bid increment", given that you can give a bid ceiling, and it will automatically "bid" for you.

I work at a real auction with real auctioneers. We have proxy bids if that's what you're referring to. It works no different than if you sent a rep to bid for you. The seller sets a floor of say $1000. If you place a proxy bid of $1500 and the increment is $100 you essentially start the bidding at $1100. If someone in person at the auction bids $1200 you automatically bid back $1300. The person at the auction can bid back. In theory the person at the auction should be following a similar formula. They should already know what they're willing to spend.

I do see people in person bid others up just because they are new or because they don't like them for some reason. You may have no interest in buying something but can still make the other person pay more than they otherwise would have. After all if you can make someone else spend more money they won't have it when it's time to bid on what you want.

Re:Its stil bonkers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190825)

That's not correct, with a boolean system you can only extract a single point out of his average. With a one star rating you are negating four other 5 star ratings, more power to the raters, but will create controversies.

I would prefer a good/meh/bad system where the weight of each rating is determined dynamically based on the rater's rating. Something like PageRank. So a single nut or a coordinate group can't go around fucking the ratings of everybody, with the rating of an experienced, well connected and appreciated rider counting more.

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (4, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189811)

When do we get to start rating individual taxi drivers? There are a few of them I'd like to never be matched with again!

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (1)

willy_me (212994) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190061)

It is saying that drivers require a 90% or better approval rating. If the driver has a major screw-up they will burn a pile of karma (or stars) and might be excluded from the driver pool. A minor screw-up burns less. But to actually understand the rating system you should know the passenger guideline on how to rate drivers. I imagine that a driver that does their job on time, is safe, and doesn't smell too bad gets an automatic 5 stars.

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190197)

Requiring 4.5 stars out of 5 is not a 90% approval rating. A 90% approval rating would have a "Do you approve of this driver? Yes/No" poll and require 90% to be yes.

A 90% approval rating on a 5 star program would mean 90% of people must rate at 3 stars or higher. Not that the average rating be 4.5 stars or above. It is TOTALLY different.

Your comments point out the problem perfectly. " I imagine that a driver that does their job on time, is safe, and doesn't smell too bad gets an automatic 5 stars.". So what does one do to get 3 stars? Stink of onions, run red lights, and be late? That's a 3 star driver?

Then what is a 1 star driver, someone who runs over your wife and then spits on the corpse?

By designing the rating system this way they are FORCING a skew to the right. It's idiotic. The only reason I can see them doing this is for some marketing tactic where they can claim they have all 5 star drivers without explaining the meaning.

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44191641)

Then what is a 1 star driver, someone who runs over your wife and then spits on the corpse?

Some would rate that five stars with a large tip!

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (2)

NitWit005 (1717412) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190129)

You're falsely assuming they want average. They probably want excellent service only. If you want to ensure people only get excellent service, you're going to have to have a harsh cutoff built into the system somewhere.

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191947)

No he's not. He's saying that if you have a ratings system where 5 means "Good", 4 means "Not good but could have been worse", and 1-3 means "Fire this guy", then people's default vote will be 5, and it'll be impossible to determine who's actually a good driver, and who just does the minimum.

eBay is a good example of this idea in practice. By rights, the right item arriving as described during the advertised delivery period should be rated a "Neutral" transaction, and an average eBayer should have mostly "Neutral" ratings. But because of... well, I don't know why, but somehow we got to the point that "Neutral" means bad, and so the score of an eBayer is completely useless - you genuinely can't tell the people who go the extra mile from the people who do just enough to avoid getting fired. (And interestingly their attempt to introduce more fine grained seller ratings fails for the same reason.)

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192503)

If you have a genuine solution to that problem you could write your own ticket.

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (1)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191567)

"Passengers and drivers rate each other after every ride. If you rate a driver below 4 stars, youâ(TM)ll never be matched with that driver again. If a driver's average falls below 4½ out of 5 stars, they are removed from the Lyft community. It's our way of maintaining high-quality standards."

Can anyone tell me what the point is of a 5 star rating system if anything below 4.5 stars gets you kicked out? All this is going to end up doing is artificially inflating ratings. Basically everyone will be a five star driver or a zero star. It makes no sense whatsoever. I would think any logical system would have at least 3 stratas of "Excellent/Well above average", "OK", and "Average, but would ride with again".

It's like video game reviews in commercial magazines, no game scores below 80% so 80% becomes the new zero.

So essentially, this "5 star" rating system is a 0.5 star rating system.

Re:Lyft's rating system is bonkers (2)

LVSlushdat (854194) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191837)

Thats the same kinda shit eBay has been doing with their DSR b.s. since the inmates took over the assylum, after Meg Whitman left. its a 1-5 scale and if you as a seller drop below about 4.5 you get hassled by eBay and can be prevented from selling. I started selling on eBay back in 1998 but when the current management started screwing it up, I quit.. Looks this outfit has the same grade of moron in *its* management.

Sharing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44189745)

For what I can see, you pay for the Lyft ride. That's a taxi, not a carpool. Perhaps I'm wrong.

Re:Sharing? (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189805)

Yeah, the prices are definitely more taxi-like than rideshare-like as well.

If you look at ride-sharing via places like Craigslist, payment is usually roughly on the order of the cost of gas, maybe rounded up. E.g. if you get a ride from SF to LA, a typical asking price is for you to pitch in $50.

But the prices on Lyft seem to be on the order of $15-20 for a short ride within SF, which is more like taxi prices. At that cost you're hiring a paid driver, not pitching in for gas in a rideshare.

Re:Sharing? (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189861)

Yeah, the prices are definitely more taxi-like than rideshare-like as well.

If you look at ride-sharing via places like Craigslist, payment is usually roughly on the order of the cost of gas, maybe rounded up. E.g. if you get a ride from SF to LA, a typical asking price is for you to pitch in $50.

But the prices on Lyft seem to be on the order of $15-20 for a short ride within SF, which is more like taxi prices. At that cost you're hiring a paid driver, not pitching in for gas in a rideshare.

the price is not the distinctive thing.

the distinctive thing is simply if the driver would have made the trip regardless. if the driver makes the trip because of the cash, then he is a hired driver...

Where is the service? (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189975)

No, the distinctive thing is that you're paying for a ride. That's a service.

Not saying that the city/state whatever needs to be involved, but I *am* saying that to pretend this isn't a paid service to the rider is disingenuous.

Suppose a taxi driver was thinking of going downtown to Bruno's for a good pizza slice. Turns around, heads down Broadway, there you are, waving your hand. You get in and tell him, Bruno's, please! Did that suddenly turn the taxi ride into not-a-taxi-ride? No, of course not.

Re:Where is the service? (2)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190107)

What made it still a taxi ride is that if you told him "Anywhere but Bruno's", he would still take you where you wanted to go. It would be ride share if his response was "Nah, I was going to Bruno's".

Re:Where is the service? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192155)

It would be ride share if his response was "Nah, I was going to Bruno's".

No, it wouldn't -- because YOU are going to Brunos, and so you wouldn't go with him, you'd get your paid service from someone willing to provide it. There are plenty of taxi situations where the driver will tell you "no, I don't go there."

The distinctive element here isn't what doesn't happen; it is what does happen. As I said, I'm not arguing for regulation (nor am I claiming any one way is better than another... that strikes me as highly situational); but in terms of the common element here, it's that (a) transport costs money, (b) you don't have transport, (c) you pay someone to provide it, (d) they do so.

Re:Where is the service? (1)

TheLink (130905) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192225)

I've had taxi drivers tell me they didn't want to go where I wanted to go. They're taxi drivers not slaves.

Maybe they think there'll be a bad traffic jam where I'm going and they won't make as much money. Or they're finishing their shift soon and want to be in a different area when they do. Or they want to head to another area which they think will make them more money.

Re:Where is the service? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190257)

No, the distinctive thing is that you're paying for a ride.

It seems to me that the distinctive thing is that this is pre-arranged and negotiated with a specific driver.

If I hail a taxi on the street, I don't know the driver, and I don't want to haggle over the fare. So it is reasonable for the government to regulate that, and set standard fares.

If I arrange for a ride over the internet, I can independently check out the driver's reputation and negotiate the fare in the comfort of my home. So there is no need for government involvement.

On a few occasions I have met taxi drivers that were especially helpful and friendly, and I negotiated special "meter-off" trips over the next few days. My family and I had a great tour of London a few years ago. Nobody knows London like a cabbie.

 

Re:Sharing? (1)

bakuun (976228) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190951)

But the prices on Lyft seem to be on the order of $15-20 for a short ride within SF, which is more like taxi prices. At that cost you're hiring a paid driver, not pitching in for gas in a rideshare.

Yeah, absolutely. Lyft, Sidecar, Uber - they're all really taxi companies in disguise, trying to pretend being carpooling services.
An example of a real carpooling service is Avego, which connects drivers and riders with each other. The big difference to e.g. Lyft is that the prices are much lower, so the drivers only offset part of their cost rather than making a profit. That way, the service is really for regular commuters rather than for taxis. Drivers save a bit of money (and get to drive in the faster HOV lanes), riders get cheap and easy transportation, congestion levels are reduced, and there are less pollution from cars. Boomberg did an interview with them recently where they explained (among other things) the difference to e.g. Lyft at http://www.bloomberg.com/video/beat-the-bart-strike-with-avego-s-ridesharing-app-sxMdKCAbTbWzaiWyJwBP6w.html [bloomberg.com] .

Re: Sharing? (5, Insightful)

maden (1855410) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189831)

But the state sees nothing of this money, and they don't like that!

Re: Sharing? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190133)

Gas is free in the USA?

Re: Sharing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190401)

Gas is free in the USA?

Sometimes. They haven't yet gotten around to charging for air, for example.

Re: Sharing? (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192297)

Been to station lately that still gives free air? $0.75 for just enough time to hit all four tires. Never noticed it until I went on a driving vacation last month. Good thing I have a compressor in the garage. Not free to operate, but certainly a lot less than a service station. BTW, never trust their gauge. An accurate one will run you about $10.

Re: Sharing? (0)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191575)

Gas is free in the USA?

I believe petrol is subsidised in the US.

So the state loses money when people buy petrol and dont use it for a taxable purpose.

Re: Sharing? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192229)

Subsidized? Only if you account the pentagon's budget as a hidden gas subsidy. Gasoline is pretty heavily taxed in the USA. It is outrageously taxed in Europe.

American gas taxes aren't inflation indexed and haven't been adjusted to reflect current efficiencies. They no longer cover roads. They did, however pay for most federal ends of mass transit projects up to a decade ago.

Wait, what? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189779)

It seems that the service has the taxi community in an uproar, who believe that Lyft ride-share drivers should be required to obtain the permits similar to those required of taxi drivers.

Carpooling should have the same license as a taxi?

What utter crap.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44189867)

I'd agree with you IF Lyft was a car pooling service. It is not. It is a service for freelance taxi drivers. This is NOT the same thing as car pooling.

Lyft is much more like a taxi company than a carpooling connection network. They're just trying to pretend that they're not.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189985)

Agreed. Its quite a bit different than Slugging [npr.org] that is/was popular in some cities.

These newer programs have apps for ride matching, rating systems, and at least informally set fees. Its a regulation dodge more than anything else.

Still, I would love to see a similar rating system for individual taxi drivers, because half of them don't bathe, 60% of them are surly, 5 to10% of them on any given day don't look remotely like the credentials hanging in the cab, and the vehicles themselves are filthy and often barely road worthy.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190979)

I don't get it, why don't they change it so you accrue miles for each trip shared, that you can spend later for your own trips ? No money involved, true car sharing.

Oh, I see, that would not generate them revenue from a fly under the radar unlicensed taxi service.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

bakuun (976228) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190991)

Agreed. Its quite a bit different than Slugging [npr.org] that is/was popular in some cities. These newer programs have apps for ride matching, rating systems, and at least informally set fees. Its a regulation dodge more than anything else.

Definitely - and they're not turnout out to be so successful at dodging the legislation after all. There are other companies that do "real" carpooling though, such as e.g. Avego. They've been getting a lot of attention during the BART strike now, with them offering to actually fly commuters to work by helicopter ( http://bartstrike.com/?page_id=1073 [bartstrike.com] ).

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44192491)

I've been "slugging" to and from DC from northern VA every work day for the last 10 years. No rating system, no paying anyone, no corporate involvement etc. The system just works and has been for over 25 years.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189871)

That was my thought as well, but it turns out it isn't carpooling -- it's a paid service, and a fairly steep one at that.

http://www.lyft.me/drivers [www.lyft.me]
From the "become a driver" page: "Drivers are making up to $35/hr + choosing their own hours."

It sounds like a taxi service, except Lyft doesn't have employees, doesn't have to pay unemployment or workers comp insurance, and then if there is an accident, will the driver's private insurance which most likely assumes you are not being a public carrier, pay out?

Re:Wait, what? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189887)

From the "become a driver" page: "Drivers are making up to $35/hr + choosing their own hours."

It sounds like a taxi service

Yeah, in which case, it's hard to see how they're NOT directly competing with Taxis.

That gets into an entirely different category -- if it was purely ride-sharing/gas-sharing that's one thing, but this is something else.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189999)

I agree with you. However, I don't see why taxis get to be a protected business. If I have a car and want to charge people to drive them around the city, why shouldn't I be allowed to? Sure there's some safety aspects about getting into a car with a stranger, but there's safety aspects with many things in life. You don't need a special license to watch over people's kids, you shouldn't need a special license to drive someone around town.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190043)

I'm pretty tired of people like the GP apoligizing for mafia shakedown tactics.

That's all these protected industries are - state-created monolopies that get to use the force of law to enforce their turf and enrich a few taxi drivers, city employees, and politicians at everyone else's expense.

If people are able to use technology to outmaneuver and bypass indefensible laws then good for them.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190513)

Here getting a license also means you have to have certain number of cars out even when there is not much to do,
taking the fares out to the country side that doesn't make as much money as short trips in the city, etc.

Without it taxis wouldn't make money and there would it would be no taxis except friday and saturday night where
lots of people need to get home from bars

Several examples of critical infra structure where someone is granted a "monopoly" in exchange for also
having do the parts of it that isn't profitable

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44191285)

Without it taxis wouldn't make money and there would it would be no taxis except friday and saturday night where
lots of people need to get home from bars

Utter bullshit from someone talking out of their ass.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

turp182 (1020263) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190665)

"Enrich a few taxi drivers"?

The median income of a taxi driver in the US is around $32,000.

http://www1.salary.com/Taxi-Driver-Salary.html [salary.com]

Regulation is designed to enforce tax collection and nothing more. And I'm not convinced that's a bad thing, but I also feel that ride sharing, even for profit, should be legal (and that profits should be reported and taxes paid accordingly - good luck with that, I feel that the middleman should handle this, with the individual provider having to then report the profit portion, removing fuel and a possible maintenance fee).

Re:Wait, what? (1)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191601)

The median reported taxable income of a taxi driver in the US is around $32,000.

TFTFY.

Taxi drivers are one of the few professions where wide scale tax evasion is extremely simple, if you take every 2nd or 3rd job as cash you simply dont report that income (or at least the majority of it, if you're smart you report 20%ish of your cash earnings to prevent the tax office from being suspicious).

Re:Wait, what? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191415)

enrich a few taxi drivers

LOL, rich taxi drivers are about as common as rich burger flippers.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190143)

It isnt so much the licensing, but the enforced artificial scarcity created to protect the established.

With Taxi Medallions going for as much as $1 million, is it any wonder that people willing to sell their services as a driver want to avoid the completely corrupt taxi industry?

Re:Wait, what? (5, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190181)

You do need a special license to run a day care service, and you should need a special license to drive people around unless you have a few million in the bank to pay for the damage you cause.

Lots of people work in the underground economy to avoid taxes, and while there is some short term gain to be had be outside the system, there are reasons why the system exists. Some of it bullshit, like wars and NSA and so forth, but some of it comes out of the labor movement and is designed to help and protect workers. Things like unemployment and workers comp. By working under the table, when something goes wrong, you are really screwed. And big business is always looking for ways to shift the costs of doing business onto the worker. This is probably one of those ways.

I don't know about every state, but one of the big games businesses try to play is telling people to become independent contractors. They think that if their workers are ICs, they won't have to pay workers comp premiums. Except the WA state statute doesn't talk about "employees" -- it talks about "workers where the essence of the contract is personal labor." So a while back, it was a popular way for taxi companies to shirk their responsibility by leasing cabs to drivers and making them independent contractors. Didn't work and they got spanked because the drivers provided only personal labor.

In the case of this company, where they act as dispatcher arranging payment, pick up, drop off and act as boss (they'll essentially fire you if you don't live up to their standards) -- that's personal labor. And while you may provide your own car, that isn't good enough to get beyond the "worker" definition (been tried). So anyway, if this company is operating in WA and not paying premiums, it's going to get fined, and if a worker gets hurt while driving, they'll be on the hook for all the claim costs.

Re:Wait, what? (3, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190283)

Avoid starting a business in Washington state. Check.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190535)

here is is basically that if you don't work for several different companies, then you are an employee and not a independent contractor

Re:Wait, what? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191537)

You do need a special license to run a day care service, and you should need a special license to drive people around unless you have a few million in the bank to pay for the damage you cause.

These licenses are supposed to reduce the number of taxi-driving serial killers while making some money. And you can't justify the cost of the license if you let someone else do the same job without one. But if you don't believe in any kind of protectionism, then it's only reasonable to require a certain amount of insurance. Say, one MILLION dollars (pinky) per passenger, plus the normal liability insurance. That's what a massage practitioner has to hold, at least in California.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44192455)

You supply your own car, work when and where you feel like it, and choose which rides to give. I'm sure there's no way they prevent you from driving any other people around for any price. That sounds pretty independent to me. I mean, its similar to rent-a-coder sites in that respect. They match up people who need serivces with service providers, take care of payments, and do some vetting.

However, they do provide $1M liability insurance. Also, it's funny how they call the rider's payment a "donation".

dom

Re:Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

JThundley (631154) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190483)

I work for a limousine service, here's just a couple of things I can think of off the top of my head. Insurance, which was mentioned earlier. If you get in an accident, is this guy's private not-for-hire insurance going to cover you? We drug test, I can't imagine an individual drug testing himself. We monitor employee's hours making sure that they get enough sleep and we see them in person when they pick up cars. We're able to judge their appearance to make sure they look fit and healthy enough to drive and are also dressed professionally. We wash our cars every day. We have an office that keeps track of things and can send another car to pick up a passenger should something unexpected happen. If you use Lyft and schedule a pickup and then your single and only driver needs to make stops or gets stuck in traffic, what do you do next? We check their DMV record and straight up fire people if they get into 2 accidents in too short of a time span. We do regular maintenance on the vehicles constantly to make sure they're in top operating condition. In this industry, you get what you pay for. We're a business and we're good at what we do and have streamlined processes for making our business run efficiently. If you go with some Joe off the street, he's going to be learning all of this from day 1.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190587)

Taxis aren't a protected business, but they are a regulated business. Anyone else wanting to enter the market has to follow the same regulations.

And yes, you do need a special license to watch over people's kids. Ok to keep the neighbor's around for the afternoon, but if you are doing your home day care business then you will need to be licensed.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190707)

The number of taxis in NYC is fixed, and the price of a "medallion" to operate one hangs around $1M (source [nyc.gov] ). That's not an open-but-regulated business. That's a closed, protected one.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190939)

Not all cities are NYC.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | 1 year,19 days | (#44191563)

Yet the city that we are talking about, San Francisco, also has a rigid number of Medallions issued out and thats it. If you want to own a cab in San Francisco, you have to buy a Medallion from an existing Medallion owner. There isnt an application process where you can apply to get a license and if you look like a great person to operate a cab you will get a Medallion.. its not like that at all, nor does anyone at all pretend that thats the way it is. The City doesn't. The Medallion owners don't.

If you examine all the large cities, you will find that fixed-number-of-medallion setup is overwhelmingly the norm.

..and its not just taxi services that have this protected-from-competition arrangement, and often the laws are written quite plainly to state that the licensing board for the industry must consider the impact a new license would have on existing license holders.

For example, Connecticut just recently rescinded a law which protected moving companies [reason.com] after a long battle with an out-of-state moving company that wanted to do business inside the state but could not get a license to do so on the grounds that the additional competition would hurt the existing license holders. Note that the article I just linked to states "Unfortunately, the old standard will still apply to taxi, livery, and motorbus carriers."

So while you sit there claiming that not all cities are like NYC, well my friend entire States are exactly like New York City. What I really think is that you dont have a real grasp of the amount of government regulation there is in the country, nor do I think that you have even a casual understanding of the intent of nearly every regulation. I think that you are likely to be someone that has regularly defended greater regulation of things that are already so regulated that the current players dont have to worry about any competition, a situation that devolved into an event that got you to call for greater regulation to begin with (housing bubble? yeah, I predict that you blame the housing bubble on a lack of regulation.)

It's not protected, it's regulated (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190629)

As has been pointed out, if the the driver's drunk and car wreaks and you're hurt, are your medical bills paid? Can you be sure the driver is going to charge uphold his end? Couldn't he get there, realize you're about to be late for an Airplane w/o time to call, and then charge more?

Right now it's self regulating because it's new, and there's a lot of venture capital in the system making that work. But give it 5 or 10 years after the VC funds run out and those same VCs want their ROI and corners start being cut. Then add the fact that a safely and well regulated business (Taxicabs) is now gone because they couldn't compete, and they'll stop kicking drivers out because, hey, they're makin' money off the bad drivers and the good.

I suspect people who know more about it can give a bigger list of why taxi cabs are regulated, but what I'm getting at is that there is a _reason_ we regulated things in the first place, and it's very often a good one. Sure, regulation can be a pain, but you take the good with the bad because before it life was nasty, brutish & short.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

timeOday (582209) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190705)

If I have a car and want to charge people to drive them around the city, why shouldn't I be allowed to?

Evidently there are no reasons at all, since otherwise they surely would have forced their way into your head while you were typing out your rhetorical question.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44191915)

If I have a car and want to charge people to drive them around the city, why shouldn't I be allowed to?

You can, see http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/transportation/passengers/ for licensing information.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

NitWit005 (1717412) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190161)

If a friend and I alternate driving each other, we've still made a financial transaction and are competing with taxis. It's just a barter based transaction.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189947)

And they have a stupid gimmick and really annoying ads all over FB (at least if you are in Seattle)

and gas and other car costs come out of that $35hr (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190005)

and gas and other car costs come out of that $35hr.

Also lyft likely takes a cut as well.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190479)

In all the cities that I have lived in, Taxi drivers are all self employed as well.. they are NOT employees

A driver leases the car from the taxi company and the taxi company in turn feeds them rides.

I drove a taxi when I was younger in Tampa, FL. The going rate back then was $70 a day to lease a cab for 24 hours and that was in 1993. I can imagine it is well over $100 a day now. Then the driver pays gas as well. I had to make $100 a day in fares just to break even.

It's a tough job and they really do not make a ton of money, but the companies do that is for sure... Fleet of 100 cars - $100 a day - 30 days a month is 300,000 a month or 36 million a year. You could buy new cars EVERY YEAR for 3 million not even figuring what you could sell the old ones for, insurance even at 5000 a month per car is only 6 million...

That leave 27 million.. you don't have many real employees just dispatchers and a few mechanics if you are buying new cars all the time and then city license fees..

It's a gold mine....

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44191833)

Fleet of 100 cars - $100 a day - 30 days a month is 300,000 a month or 36 million a year. You could buy new cars EVERY YEAR for 3 million not even figuring what you could sell the old ones for, insurance even at 5000 a month per car is only 6 million...

That leave 27 million.. you don't have many real employees just dispatchers and a few mechanics if you are buying new cars all the time and then city license fees..

It's a gold mine....

U R Dumb. Ok, that's not fair, but you jumped the gun and didn't bother to check your math for sanity. $100/day*100cars= $10000 (easy trick, you had 4 zero's to start you still have 4 at the end)
$10k*30days/mo=$300k=$300,000 (5 zeros)
$300k*12 months/yr=$3.6M=$3,600,000 (still just 5 zeros at the end).

$3.6M/yr is still nice, but split over 100 cars, that's $36(five minus two zeros)=$36,000/yr/car
You can still buy a non-fancy new car every year, but you'll be sleeping in it if you do.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189981)

But let's step back a bit. I'm no Valley Visionary, so if I were setting up a business based on offering unlicensed hospitality or cab rides, I might ask myself a few questions first. And I may ask myself: why is it that every town and city I've ever been to has licensing requirements for people offering taxi services or overnight accommodations? Is there a global taxi cartel or a multinational bed-and-breakfast conglomerate enforcing its will on municipalities from Aberystwyth to Yellowknife? And if there isn't -- and of course there isn't, because taxi and B&B operations are usually local and small-scale operations -- I may ask myself: what's behind all these rules?

http://whimsley.typepad.com/whimsley/2012/12/peer-to-peer-hucksterism-an-open-letter-to-tim-wu.html [typepad.com]

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190053)

It's not carpooling. These are cars and drivers that would not be on the road without the service.

It may not purely increase congestion - the riders might otherwise use a car of their own. But it's basically a taxi with 10x better service (in function, not just attitude), slightly lower prices, and total dependence on GIS for knowledge of local geography.

There are a variety of reasons to regulate taxis, but the original one was that otherwise, taxi drivers would run a ton of scams. This isn't a problem with Lyft, specifically. Now we have additional concerns about traffic congestion and ecological impact. I don't know whether that is a problem with Lyft, but it's not crazy to suggest regulation.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190303)

It's a lot harder to run people around in circles when every cell phone has GPS built into it. Already told you the mileage and fare before you start.

Uh, what?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44189889)

Do you not see how other people drive on the road? Now you want to get in their car and let them drive you?

WTF

Re:Uh, what?! (2)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190019)

Do you not see how other people drive on the road? Now you want to get in their car and let them drive you?

WTF

Do you see how Taxi Drivers drive on the road?
They are paid by the mile, so even if you ASK them the slow the hell down, they won't.

Why not take the rating system of Lyft and apply it to Taxi Drivers?

Better yet,
Why not have a QR code right there on the cab window, so you can see this driver's picture and record BEFORE you get in the cab?

Re:Uh, what?! (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190489)

Where I'm from, Alberta, taxis are the worst for speed - but on the other end. They must be tracked because they won't go the slightest above the speed limit which actually makes them dangerous. They don't go with the flow, and have tons of experience reinforcing their terrible driving habits. They've never heard of blind spots, stopping for pedestrians, signalling, and overall defensive driving. Now those are the ones 'trained' to drive people around. There's no way a service that pairs random people together will ever take off until the roads are safer overall.

Re:Uh, what?! (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190575)

There's no way a service that pairs random people together will ever take off until the roads are safer overall.

Sounds to me like you just made the case that random pairing might produce BETTER results.

And apparently the service has taken off enough to catch the attention of Cab drivers and regulators in several states.
After all if everyone in Alberta drove like that there wouldn't be an un-dented car anywhere.

Perhaps if LYFT lost the silly mustache logo and went for something a little less conspicuous the cabbies would never have noticed them.

Re:Uh, what?! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190591)

Around the world, taxi service varies very widely. The devil is in the details.

Just call London's rules the new standard. Many cities would have one cab on the roads for years until the market adjusts. Guess how much he will charge?

Pink ride (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44189903)

A company out of San Francisco which advocates "ride sharing" and using a pink mustache as a logo? Some jokes just write themselves.

big government argument (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44189951)

If taxi cabs aren't regulated, we can't have food inspections! Or roads! Or firefighters! Go live in Somalia! There are no taxi cab regulators there.

Re:big government argument (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190151)

Must be a guy. Probably one who never rides in a cab. Probably one too young to have a daughter or girl-friend.

Your view will change over time son, probably the first time you put your girlfriend or daughter in a cab to the airport for the first time, and look with horror at the neck tattoos and filthy clothes of the driver. You'll be wishing for more regulation.

Re:big government argument (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190187)

>You'll be wishing for more regulation.

Nothing like creating laws from emotion. Look how well that policy has been serving the USA for the past 100 years.

If regulation didn't work to keep undesirables from running the cabs, why not just try more? At some point it's bound to work, right?

Re:big government argument (1)

artor3 (1344997) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192121)

Nothing like creating laws from emotion. Look how well that policy has been serving the USA for the past 100 years.

Dude, do you have any idea what life was like for the average American in 1913? We're a hell of a lot better off now.

And yeah, laws get passed on emotion. It may not be ideal, but that's democracy for you. People aren't computers, and wishing they were only serves to make you miserable.

Honestly surprised it works at all in LA (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189971)

LA's public transportation system covers a phenomenally large area, and is ubiquitous and cheap. I used to ride it all the time before moving to Chicago, where I'm still a little amazed at how much smaller and more expensive it is.

I'm surprised any 3rd party transportation system can make enough money to survive in LA, but I'm not surprised by the cease-and-desist. Public transportation is kept cheap by subsidies and limiting other services. For instance, you can't hail a cab -- it's illegal for them to pull over for you. These services are likely seen as pulling and end run-around the regulations that licensed taxi companies need to follow.

Re:Honestly surprised it works at all in LA (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190077)

I used to ride it all the time

Right there is the root of the problem. The TIME it takes to get anywhere, with sometimes two or three bus/train changes, mismatched schedules and waits.

I've a niece who is the queen of mass-transit, and seemingly has the entire DC route map and schedules memorized, even for places she rarely goes.

I find Google Maps Transit is useful in some cities, but by and large public transportation only works for commuting, and visitors or any place out of the ordinary requires a lot of map and route study, or just jump in a cab and pay.

Re:Honestly surprised it works at all in LA (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190531)

True. Public transit is great for commuting, maybe getting to and from big events, and for low income people completely familiar with lots of routes. It's practically useless for tourists.

Re:Honestly surprised it works at all in LA (1)

demonlapin (527802) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190829)

Depends. Just went to London for a week and found that Google Maps Transit was pretty fantastic. Obviously, you're going to need to be in a big city for it to work, but it's not like tourists are going to be trying to suss out transportation in out-of-the-way hamlets. We ended up taking the bus a lot more than the tube, both because it involved fewer stairs and because you actually got to see the city as you traveled. Total times were pretty similar - tube is faster but involves more of a walk at the end, bus is slower but drops you much closer to your destination. And I got to see some genuine anticapitalist protesters mix it up with the Met in Oxford Street - you won't find that on the tube!

Re:Honestly surprised it works at all in LA (1)

macshit (157376) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192419)

Public transit is great for commuting, maybe getting to and from big events, and for low income people completely familiar with lots of routes. It's practically useless for tourists

Of course this is an over-generalization.

There are cities with good transit (Tokyo, London, etc), and there are cities with bad transit (most of the U.S.), and naturally transit in the former is a much better experience than transit in the latter.

Tokyo, for instance, is a rail city (rail has a majority transportation mode-share, across all uses); its many rail lines are fast, clean, efficient, go everywhere, and are significantly cheaper than a taxi. For typical trips (and especially for tourists, who visit mostly popular locations), rail is faster almost all of the time, and if there's any road congestion (which is ... often), it's much faster. If you're loaded down with suitcases, you might want to take a taxi (assuming you're not going too far, because taxis are very expensive), but if you're just looking around the city, you're far better off just using the rail system.

Insurance (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | 1 year,19 days | (#44189979)

This will last until the first major accident where someone's car is totaled and their insurance company won't pay. Lyft provides liability insurance up to $1,000,000 which is great for protecting you against injury lawsuits but it isn't going to replace your car. Better have an honest talk with your insurance agent to make sure your vehicle is covered for this type of use. And I wonder if your vehicle would need to be registered for commercial use.

Re:Insurance (1)

tftp (111690) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190179)

And I wonder if your vehicle would need to be registered for commercial use.

It sounds likely, since you'd be using it for commercial purposes. Lyft, of course, has nicely isolated themselves from those problems - they only run a matchmaking service; the costs are borne by the driver. At $35/hr this is not that great, if you have to pay for gas and service out of that amount. In city you'd cover, on average, 30 miles within 1 hour, and that would be 1 gallon of fuel at $4. So you have now $30, and you are at the far end of the trip. Taxi drivers get connected trips over the radio (or a cell phone today.) Do the Lyft drivers get the next trip once they arrive at some faraway location? If they have to drive back at their own cost, the income from that occupation is nonexistent, and can be wiped out by a single accident that is caused either by the passenger asking to go to an accident-prone location, or simply by statistics.

Mustache ride? Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190213)

Huh.

radiators (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | 1 year,19 days | (#44190215)

I thought this story was going to be about SoCal Lyft cars overheating due to those giant mustaches blocking the airflow to the radiators.

Oh my (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190473)

Thyr nym ys ydyotyc.

Lyft is NOT carpooling (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44190793)

Do people understand why taxis are licensed? Do you know where the whole licensing came about? It has to do with public safety (try taxis in Mexico City, you just might find yourself abducted). Yes it is a big regulatory beast these days, but at its core taxi-licensing is for the safety and security of the consumer. What is Lyft? Totally random strangers getting into other totally random strangers cars to go for a ride. I can tell you Ted Bundy would love to be alive today with this sort of deal going on...

Re:Lyft is NOT carpooling (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44192033)

Yes, because Ted Bundy would love the fact that there's a record of someone getting into his car right before he disappeared.

I hate the pink mustache! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44191249)

I saw a car with the pink mustache in San Francisco, and I just think it's UGLY!

Surely there's a more aesthetic, yet noticeable, logo!

No representation without taxation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44191697)

This is another case of regulatory capture. The LA DOT gets paid permit fees by taxis and none by commie-pinko ride sharers. Now the DOT is acting in the interest (being regulated by) those whom it was supposed to regulate.

Re:No representation without taxation (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192309)

No representation without taxiation.

FIFY

Are LA Taxi's unions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#44192009)

If they are that explains the S&D order.. I believe California politicians whether dems, or rep, support and kiss the unions ass. I the company Lyft holds a high standard on there own which matches if not exceeds California's idiot DOT. That would explain the childishness by LA politicians.. Again another things unions are good at, destroying anything that makes other lives easier because they can't get in on it.

It'll just drive the movement underground... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | 1 year,19 days | (#44192123)

It'll just drive the movement underground.
Well, sort of like BART.

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