Lyft Launches in Miami: We Try the Peer-to-Peer Ride-Sharing App
I hate taking taxis in Miami-Dade, but I depend on them. Without a car, I sometimes need a quick ride to events and to the office, which unfortunately has no convenient bus or trolley stops nearby.
Photo by Jose D. Duran My Lyft driver, Jeniffer.
But the rights of passengers who use taxi services in the county are rarely acknowledged. I've had cab drivers start the meter at $7, and when I've argued that they should set it at $2.50, they've kicked me out. Another driver cursed me out because I didn't have exact change even though it wasn't my fault he couldn't break a $20 or accept credit cards. One time I was told to get out of a cab when the driver didn't deem my ride worth his time -- he wanted a passenger with a more lucrative fare.
So I don't feel much sympathy for Miami's cabbies. That's why I'm excited that Lyft has launched in Miami and is willing to stand up to Miami's Taxi Drivers Association and Miami-Dade County politicians.
The service launched yesterday at 7 p.m. When I opened the app, there were about 11 drivers available. All I needed to do was click "Request a Lyft" and a car would swoop me up.
I decided to use Lyft this morning. Around 9 a.m., there were zero drivers available. I'm not sure if that meant they were all busy or nobody was on call. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like you can put yourself in a queue and wait until a driver becomes available. To request a ride, there must be an available driver.
Finally, around 10:20 I saw one available car somewhere in North Miami, 16 minutes from my Edgewater location. I clicked to request a pick-up. No response from the driver. I clicked again. No response.
I walked away for a minute and returned to try again. This time the driver accepted my request. It seems the app gives the driver the power to respond to or ignore a call. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a problem if the passenger has to be somewhere on time.
The app alerted me that Jeniffer would be my driver and told me the make, model, and color of her car. This is a particularly welcome safety feature. The last thing I wanted was to get chopped up and thrown into the Everglades. Also, I'm not sure whether this is a mandatory procedure for drivers, but Jeniffer called me seconds after accepting my request to confirm my address and give me an estimated time of arrival. (The app actually lets you know how far away a car is.)