So by now you’ve most likely heard of Lyft. Well this weekend I decided to take my first test of it. A couple things to address first off, I do not typically use cabs to get around. I much rather would drive most of the time. Therefore before I requested my first Lyft there was a bit of fear there. I also cannot compare the prices to cabs here in Columbus as I’ve never taken one. That said I was pleasantly surprised with the Lyft experience.
I signed up for Lyft when I got a link from one of the drivers I know. With said link I received 50 free Lyfts of $25 within the first 15 days. This meant I had to give it a shot! So Saturday night I decided I was going to make the most of my evening.
Here are is where I hit my one and only snag. I opened up the app to request my Lyft out and it said that all drivers were busy. I let the app sit open and watched and waited for someone to become available. It was 8 minutes from the point I began waiting before the first driver became free. Now, since I was at home at this point it was not a big deal in the slightest. However if I had been outside it would have been an annoyance. That said, I was testing this on a busy Saturday night and it was right at prime heading out time.
Suddenly the words changed. Nearest driver 11 minutes away. Hallelujah! Only 11 minutes away? That was a shock considering I live in Gahanna. Even as I write this now the closest driver to me is 23 minutes away. I hit the Request Lyft button and it tells me that Cassie is on her way and shows me right where she is now. I can see her car on the map and am glad to see she’s at Easton.
My phone begins to ring and it’s Cassie. She’s calling to verify my address. She had a previous pickup who had moved the map around not noticing it changed the pickup location when you did that. While I was guilty of moving the map around I had noticed this happening and corrected the location before I requested my Lyft. Either way I was appreciative of the call. I watched on my phone as Cassie’s car moved down Morse Road towards my complex. It gave me time to debate my outfit more. I had to layer as it got colder. I watched her car pull into my complex. She passed the road to turn down since it’s not marked well and I saw her slow down while she waited for her GPS to recalculate. As she approached my apartment I went outside and saw the car pictured coming down the road. Suddenly my phone lights up with a text, “Your Lyft driver, Cassie, is here! (She’s in the silver Honda Pilot.)”. Awesome! The text is a nice confirmation that this is your ride, even if the pink mustache on the car totally gives it away.
I hope around to the passenger side door and hop in. Suddenly I wonder, is this ok? I mean, this isn’t a cab, right? My fears are quickly alleviated when Cassie offers me a fist bump upon getting in. I laugh. Pink mustaches, fist bumps, this is gonna be fun. Cassie asks where I’m going and I hesitate. I don’t know anything about this woman. She could be super religious and homophobic for all I know. So I keep it safe and just tell her Short North. We take off and have a friendly chat. She missed the first week launch of Lyft because she was on vacation. She lives in Westerville and had just come on shift when I got her. It worked out well because she was actually heading to the downtown area anyway. Apparently most of the drivers go down that way and wait for their next request. Campus, Short North, and German Village are hot spots for them and it’s advantageous to be close as Lyft gets you the closest driver available. She is a mentor for the Lyft program meaning she helps train new drivers. She tells me that Columbus is adding new drivers all the time.
I get to know her as we drive to the Short North. She turns out to be a very impressive woman. She has 7 kids. Three are her own and the other four are siblings that she adopted to keep them from being separated. We get down to the Short North and I have her drop me at Union. She pulls right in the alley and she explains to me that I just need to open the app and I can raise the price for a tip and leave her a rating. She fist bumps me goodbye and says hope to see you again. I walk into the bar (which on another issue is ridiculously over crowded) and see that it says I owe $26. I raise it to tip her and leave her a 5 star rating. At first I’m concerned by the price, what happened to my free $25? Would this have normally been $51? My fears are quickly alleviated though because I get a receipt in my e-mail. The price still included my $25 which was not charged to me. I only ended up paying the dollar plus tip. Well worthy of the trip.
After getting frustrated with the twinks and queens of Union and Level I call for another Lyft. Inside Level I am getting bad signal and the app can’t locate me. So I step out. It’s right around midnight so it’s busy again but this time I barely have to wait and there’s a car three minutes away. I request my Lyft and it tells Advush is on his way. I watch his car come down high street. Suddenly I get my message that he’s here but I see no pink mustache on any of the cars pulling up. However I do see a car that looks like his and he turns the lights on inside. There’s my Lyft. I hop in and he greets me. He apologizes that he didn’t have the pink mustache but this is just his third day driving so they haven’t sent him that yet. Unfortunately that also means he hasn’t received his phone chargers yet either which is bad news for my dying phone. I ask him if he knows where AWOL is but he does not. So I just tell him Broad and Parsons and we’re off. Advush also lives in Westerville and works in architecture full time. He really seems to be enjoying this so far. The ride from Level to AWOL was only $8 and is covered by my free rides. With the free rides, Lyft lets you tip them 25% that they pay.
Finally I came to the part of the night that scared me most in the beginning. What if I get stranded downtown? I pull up the app as I’m ready to leave. All drivers busy. Fuck. Thankfully I met a nice guy and so I offer to walk him home until a Lyft becomes available. We step outside a and walk barely half a block when it suddenly says there’s a driver 4 minutes away. The picture that pops up is honestly a little creepy for this guy, they clearly need to reshoot it. When the car pulls up with the pink mustache this time I’m a little hesitant but upon meeting Craig my fears are relieved. Craig once again proves to be a great guy. He lives in Dublin and has been driving for a couple of weeks for Lyft. He has some Disney music playing in the car that of course leads to the Disney World conversation. Craig drops me off at home for $27.
Overall I had a really positive experience using Lyft. The drivers were all very friendly and the convenience of paying through the app is great. The fact that you can track your driver as they come for you is outstanding. The question is whether I see myself using it all the time. I would say if I lived somewhere closer to downtown I would probably use it a lot. However a round trip for Gahanna would cost in the upwards of $50. That said, if I ever have a night where I just want to let loose you can bet that Lyft is how I’m gonna get there from here on out. Go ahead and try it out for yourself, you’ll at least meet some nice people.
Sign up at http://www.lyft.com/invited/ryan7862