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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Taxi Service

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Official Site: Lyft.com
Wikipedia: Lyft

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A taxi service where rides are hailed via a smartphone app. Founded in 2007 as Zimride, Lyft was launched in 2012 as an expansion of the college-centric Zimride to the general public.


The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Lyft page on 2 July 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Lyft is an on-demand transportation company based in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Lyft car transportation mobile app. Launched in June 2012, Lyft operates in approximately 300 U.S. cities, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and provides over 1 million rides per day. The company was valued at US$15.1 billion as of June 2018 and has raised a total of US$5.1 billion in funding. Lyft expanded into Canada in December 2017 as a competitor to the already established Uber.

Lyft was launched in the summer of 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer as a service of Zimride, a long-distance ridesharing company the two founded in 2007. Zimride focused on ridesharing for longer trips, often between cities, and linked drivers and passengers through the Facebook Connect application. Zimride eventually became the largest rideshare program in the US.

Green had the inspiration for Zimride after sharing rides from the University of California, Santa Barbara campus to visit his girlfriend in Los Angeles. He had used Craigslist’s ride boards but wanted to eliminate the anxiety of not knowing the passenger or driver. When Facebook opened its API to third-party developers, Green said he thought "Here’s the missing ingredient." Green was introduced to John Zimmer through a mutual friend and the pair initially met on Facebook. The company name comes from the country Zimbabwe, where, during a trip in 2005, Green observed locals sharing minivan taxis. He said, "I came back to the US inspired to create that same form of transportation here." Green had coding experience and was able to develop the site in four months. Zimride launched the first version of the rideshare program at Cornell University, where, after six months, the service had signed up 20% of the campus. By using Facebook profile information, student drivers and passengers could learn about each other.

In May 2013, the company officially changed its name from Zimride to Lyft. The change from Zimride to Lyft was the result of a hackathon that sought a means of daily engagement with its users, instead of once or twice a year.

Whereas Zimride was focused on college campuses, Lyft launched as an on-demand ridesharing network for shorter trips within cities. Similar to Zimride, the app connects drivers with cars to passengers that need rides. Drivers and passengers rate each other on a five-star scale after each ride, and the ratings establish the reputations of both drivers and passengers within the network. In order to take advantage of the Lyft system, clients must set up an account that links directly to a funding source such as a debit card or PayPal account. Once the ride is completed, funds are debited from the funding source. Lyft then retains 20% from drivers who applied before January 2016 and 25% from those who applied starting January 2016 as a commission.

As a brand, Lyft became known for the large pink furry mustaches drivers attached to the front of their cars. Riders were also encouraged to sit in the front seat and fist bump with drivers upon meeting. In January 2015, Lyft introduced a small, glowing plastic dashboard mustache it called a "glowstache" as an alternative to the large fuzzy mustaches on the front of cars. The transition was to help overcome the resistance of some riders to arrive at destinations, such as business meetings, in a car with a giant mustache. In December 2016, Lyft introduced a new color-changing dashboard indicator called "Amp."

In April 2014, Lyft launched in 24 new U.S. cities in 24 hours, bringing its total to 60 U.S. cities. In August 2014, the company introduced Lyft Line, allowing passengers to split fare on shared rides.

Due to regulatory hurdles in New York City, the company decided to significantly alter its business model to establish Lyft on the East Coast. Lyft’s launch in New York City occurred on the evening of July 25, 2014 and, in accordance with the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and the approval of the Manhattan Supreme Court, only drivers registered with the TLC were permitted to drive Lyft-branded vehicles in New York City.

In May 2016, Lyft began offering a service to let clients schedule rides up to 24-hours in advance. Also in the summer of 2016, Lyft started to offer riders the ability to make multiple stops during a trip.

In January 2017, Lyft announced it would add 100 U.S. cities, bringing its total to 300 U.S. cities served.

In July 2017, the company announced that the forthcoming Walt Disney World Resort "Minnie Van" service will be powered by Lyft. Users staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels are given the option to hail a "Minnie Van" via the Lyft app. A Minnie Van, a Chevrolet Traverse with Minnie Mouse inspired exterior theming, driven by a Walt Disney World Cast Member can take guests to and from any destination within the Walt Disney World Resort for a flat fee of $20 per ride (at launch). Lyft Founder John Zimmer said of the partnership "Playing a part in a family’s experience at the most magical place on earth is a dream come true."

Article Index

19 September 2016Lyft Boss: ‘Private Car Ownership Will All but End’VOA News
27 January 2016Mercury Insurance Launches Ride-hailing Insurance for California's Uber & Lyft DriversMercury Insurance
5 April 2016Mercury Names Its 10 Most Affordable Vehicles to Insure for Uber and Lyft DriversMercury Insurance
26 April 2016Mercury Insurance Launches Ride-hailing Insurance for Illinois Uber and Lyft DriversMercury Insurance
28 April 2016AIS Insurance Announces Rideshare Insurance to Cover Gaps for Uber, Lyft DriversAIS Insurance
5 May 2016GM, Lyft Partner to Develop Driverless TaxisVOA News
20 July 2016Growing Number of Lyft Drivers Seeking to Use Retirement Funds to Fund Their Vehicle Purchase Without Tax, According to IRA Financial GroupIRA Financial Group, LLC
3 August 2016Ride N Care Expands Transportation Options for Seniors with Lyft ConciergeRide N Care, Inc.
14 September 2016Lyft and Aging2.0 Partner to Improve Transportation for Older Adults Around the WorldAging2.0
1 November 2016Study: Uber, Lyft Drivers Less Friendly Than Taxis to African-AmericansVOA News

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