Uber's plans to enter the Miami market have stalled, but a similar yet distinct ride-sharing app-based service called Lyft will give it a try anyway. The company operates a "peer-to-peer ride sharing" program that allows users to get rides from approved drivers operating their personal vehicles in exchange for money.
Lyft's business in Miami will operate on a suggested donation model. Reps for the company say they don't believe the service will break any of Miami-Dade County's chauffeured driver laws, but exMiami points out they have hired registered county lobbyists.
Lyft will officially launch at 7 p.m. Thursday. The service will operate on donations, with the suggested rates as follows: $1.68 for a pick-up fee, $1.92 per mile, and 28 cents per minute while the car is stopped in traffic. Users will be able to pay more or less depending upon the service. All payment is handled through credit card via the app. Cab rates in Miami, by contrast, are $2.50 for the first sixth of a mile, 40 cents for each additional sixth of a mile, and 40 cents for each minute of wait time, with a $1 fuel surcharge still in place.
The service will operate in most of Miami-Dade County, from the northern county line down to and including Homestead, although more remote southern and southwestern parts of the county are not covered.
The company has chosen an interesting week to launch. Police checkpoints and a traffic loop will be in effect in South Beach for Memorial Day weekend, but spokesperson Paige Thelen says the company isn't worried.
"We're actually really excited about giving people the option while they're out celebrating their weekend," she says.
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Lyft drivers, by the way, might include part-time workers hoping to make extra cash, but the guidelines to be accepted as a Lyft driver are stringent. All drivers must pass DMV and background checks. They also must be 23 or older, have no more than two moving violations, and no major violations in the past three years. Drivers who have had "extreme infractions," such as hit-and-runs or felonies involving a vehicle, or those with DUI or drug-related violations will not be accepted. Lyft also provides $1 million liability insurance coverage on top of the driver's personal insurance.
Despite similar regulations that have prevented Uber from entering the Tampa Bay market, Lyft began operating there in April. However, the Hillsborough Transportation Commission has begun ticketing Lyft drivers in that area.