Monday, April 7, 2014

Lyft Begins Operations in Tampa

Any moment now, cars with giant fuzzy pink mustaches on the front grill may pull up to Tampa International Airport, offering rides to travelers who use the upstart Lyft car service for a — lift. Standing at the curb will likely be government transportation officers, ready to write up citations against those drivers, who the county basically considers “pirate” taxis.

Besides the dramatic pink mustaches that are the icon of Lyft, the showdown pits two powerful forces against each other — entrepreneurs versus the government and established taxi/limo corporations. San Francisco-based Lyft calls itself a ride-sharing system, and the service launched in the Tampa area on Friday at 7 p.m. Some established taxi and limo companies call it a threat to their existence.

People who have cars and can pass a background check can sign up to be Lyft drivers. People who need rides download the Lyft smart phone app, signal they need a ride, and then see potential driver profiles — photos and car models included. If there’s a mutually acceptable match, the driver picks up the passenger and Lyft handles all the financial transactions so riders are charged and drivers are paid.

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