The blog I wish I had written: The truth about Lyft

A wonderful journalist sent me a link to her blog/article about driving for Lyft and I have absolutely got to share it here.

The author Justine Sharrock sent this to me over twitter and reading through it I can see she did an excellently thorough job of covering this story.  She hits on the insurance issues, background checks and inspections with aplomb.

Justine actually quoted me at one of the board meetings:

“This is the ultimate decimation of the taxi industry,” a cab driver said at a public SFMTA meeting. “Who would pay to get a license or a medallion if there is no money in it because these apps have become the way to get around town?”

A few of the points she makes I already have already seen indirect evidence of and witnessed with my own eyes:

“What I discovered: Legally they aren’t who they say they are. Donations aren’t entirely voluntary; customers who don’t pay can be blacklisted. Drivers use it as a way to make a living. They pay taxes, deduct expenses, and follow Lyft guidelines on how to make more cash. It is essentially impossible to use the app to coordinate carpooling. They don’t fulfill the legal loopholes they claim to. Lyft even admits as much themselves.”

“The interview lasted five minutes, tops.”

“Lyft takes a 20% cut of drivers’ fares (lowered temporarily to 15%), except during “power hours”: on Friday and Saturday nights, early commute hours, and holidays that involve lots of drinking, when the driver gets all the money. Most people make about $18 to $35 an hour, I was told, but it varies depending on how busy it is and whether you are driving during power hours.”

“Lyft’s vehicle safety inspection, which it claims is stricter than those of taxicab services, consisted of checking that my car was clean inside and out and having me demonstrate that my break lights, blinkers, and headlights worked.”

“They didn’t check references or ask for a résumé. I don’t think they even Googled me.”

“I bought my first car last year….My driving history does not fit the profile of a cab driver.”

A highly recommended read for those of you that think Lyft and Sidecar are such fun companies and they are “better” than cabs.

Don’t fall for the hype, use your brain.



11 thoughts on “The blog I wish I had written: The truth about Lyft

  1. This is so one-sided. You left out a lot of important details–Lyft does background and DMV checks on their drivers, was that not worth mentioning? And if a driver is rated poorly overall (including a passenger feeling unsafe for any reason), they will no longer be able to drive.

    1. So Natalie, if a Lyft driver puts his hand up your skirt when you are drunk and passed out and you don’t realize till morning…. How would you feel for the next 5 girls he did that to after dropping you off? This just doesn’t happen with a real licensed taxi. Furthermore would you want to lose your job because someone thought you were an asshole because you told them not to smoke in your car? While it may seem like the rating system in conjunction pathetic background checks and zero government oversight is a good thing, it will result in more problems for the public, not less. And like all iterations of deregulation before will just repeat the regulatory cycle it always has and go right back to the same thing. Giving that power to Uber and Lyft is not putting it in the hands of the people, its putting it in the hands of monopoly seeking corporations. What if the only job you knew suddenly dropped from thousands of choices of places for you to work, to only one or two? What if you got canned from both because you have one bushy eyebrow and everyone thinks you are giving them the evil eye? Where will you go now? Doesn’t sound so great now does it?

  2. I kind of look forward to doing my taxes every year and this year with rideshare it will be no different. I actually just did a podcast on my site about how I plan on handling all of my deductions 🙂

    1. So you aren’t reporting or under reporting your earnings? Mis-using deductions? You actually believe your earnings from them aren’t taxable? There is absolutely zero way for you to get legal deductions from illegal income. Furthermore you are not a “small business” unless you have the appropriate licensing to do the business you are doing. If you are operating a vehicle commercially its required to be registered as a commercial vehicle and have the correct licensing and insurance for those commercial activities. Which BTW, is state law unaffected by any lame duck regulations put in place by a corrupt and incompetent CPUC.

  3. Um, just because a taxi driver is licensed doesn’t mean they won’t put their hand up your skirt when you are drunk? I don’t think so. And who knows? Maybe a taxi driver can make more money as an Uber or Lyft driver? They can be their own boss.

    The argument of taxi drivers losing the only job they know….that happens in every industry. If you’ve bought anything online, you are affecting your local bricks and mortar business. When was the last time you actually stepped foot in a bank? If you don’t go to the bank anymore, tellers are losing jobs. It’s just change. If taxi drivers and taxi companies can give consumers what they want…requesting a cab and paying with an app, and using that app to track your driver’s location on their way to you, then taxi companies shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    1. Taxi companies had all of that (at least in SF) before Uber or Lyft… in fact the original Uber app was a near exact copy of a pre-existing taxi app that beat them to market; Cabulous.

      If you read my other articles you will see that a taxi driver feeding their family is something you should be concerned about. Cameras, GPS tracking, daily inspections, on site check in and out, 24/7 phones, fingerprinting and proper insurance are just a few of the reasons a cab driver would not touch the passenger. In fact in SF its illegal for a cab driver to touch any passenger (disabled and elderly excepted since they are usually in need of assistance entering and exiting the taxi).

      Further, and most important, a SF cab driver lost his medallion, taxi license and job because he touched a 16 year old girl. Guess where he is now? Driving for Uber and Lyft.

  4. mrjhnsn, you seem to be a disgruntled cab driver. I live in Los Angeles, and if you don’t believe every girl that I know who routinely takes a taxi has at least one or two stories about being treated unfairly, than you don’t seem to want to live in the real world. IT seems like you are just automatically trying to shoot down anything said in the comments whether you have a logical retort or not. Anyone with a TIN is a small business, though most people choose to ignore reporting what they make from yard sales etc. If you report your income, then you are in compliance. Your arguments seem very poorly thought out and argumentative with less validity than needed.

    1. Sorry, I am having trouble understanding your argument. I am far from disgruntled. I am quite happy watching this disaster play out worldwide. It will only serve to improve the legitimate taxi industry, ultimately proving that regulation is essential in public transportation. You may think that my arguments are not well thought out, problem is you are not even remotely an expert on transportation for hire. Your attitude towards a diver when you get in ANY vehicle for hire will surely determine the quality of service you receive. In LA many cab drivers report being treated worse by their customers in one year than the worst I have had eight years of driving in SF.

      If you are constantly having bad taxi experiences try an attitude adjustment when you get into a cab. Say hello and ask how his day is. Let him know where you want to go and any particular route preferences. Guaranteed the credit card machine will work and your meter rate will be about 20% less than if you are acting like an entitled bitch.

      (note: Los Angeles taxis are regulated by many different entities across the southland. Many taxi rides cross multiple jurisdictions and that can affect the rate depending on origin and destination. I have never taken a taxi in LA that was less than 25$ because every ride is a fucking looooooonnnggg one. BEACAUSE LA IS FUCKING HUGE.)

  5. This article feels as if its desperately scraping the smallest amount criticism in support of taxi lobbyists. I hope taxis die, the service is awful, they can refuse your service, its extremely unpractical and each driver goes through a myriad of artificial financial obstacles that pass down the expense to the customer.

    People use lyft because its a significantly better product, why hasn’t the taxi company done anything like lyft in the past 10 years? Why haven’t they introduced a more accessible, modern approach to a ride service?

    And about the inflammatory ‘skirt’ thing. What’s stopping a taxi driver from doing the same? What’s stopping a taxi driver from abducting someone?

    1. Nothing is there to prevent a cab driver from acting inappropriately but a video camera, their fingerprints and photo on file with the local govt, GPS tracking by an actual human who will be available 24/7 to take your (or law enforcement) call should something actually happen.

      Uber and Lyft… no one knows who these people are but Uber and Lyft, which has been proven repeatedly unreliable in both background checks and even knowing who is driving the car.

      If you are falling for the BS rhetoric coming from these companies, you deserve to find out first hand why regulation in transportation is necessary.

  6. My situation is a bit different how I came to drive for Lyft and Uber. I have irreversible carpal tunnel which is progressively getting worse and inoperable and a debilitating back injury which keeps me from standing or walking more than a few mins. I was living on the street but working at Disneyland until I had to go on med leave only to find the ability to go back. I was able to start driving for the two companies and am slowly getting back on my feet. I have a bankruptcy and a foreclosure and docs refuse to put me on disability. I can’t afford not to drive and I can’t afford any required items to drive a taxi. Without uber and Lyft I will be back to living on the street homeless as I know of no other job that will pay enough for me to afford rent and my bills and a car payment and I am unable to get on a lease due to my credit.

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