Now that Uber's slashed prices and agreed to cap surge pricing in the event of a Martian attack, it's time to find a new way to hail cabs without raising your arm. Enter, Lyft, a ride-share app that requires you to get into the front seat of a pink mustache-adorned car with a stranger, offer him/her a fist-bump and drive off into the darkness—it's available for riders in Queens and Brooklyn starting this Friday.
Lyft, which is available in 60 cities, is sort of like the Airbnb of e-hail programs. Cars are operated by regular (background-checked) people who aren't licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission and typically drive their own cars for a shift or two to pick up some extra cash. Like Uber, riders who download the app can request a ride with the push of a button, though unlike Uber, the car that arrives will likely sport a giant, fuzzy pink mustache, which is the company's signature sign.
It's recommended you sit in the front seat of your Lyft car—climbing into the back caused some awkward confusion when I hailed a Lyft ride in Pittsburgh, so don't let that happen to you! And once you're inside, please offer your driver a fist-bump so they understand that you are a friendly human, and will not murder them inside their own car. When you have arrived at your destination, you can offer your driver a "donation" by adding a few bucks to your total via the app. The company claims its rides are about 30 percent cheaper than those offered in a yellow cab.
Before you toss your monthly MetroCard, a few things to note. You will only be able to hail a Lyft in Brooklyn and Queens, although your driver can take you anywhere in the city. "Those are the areas that are most underserved by public transportation,” John Zimmer, Lyft’s chief executive, told the Times. “There’s a huge need to unlock the city for people who want to access it at a lower price point."
And it just so happens that Lyft is not quite legal in the city, which may make its run here rather limited. Though the company skirts certain laws by not paying their drivers—those "donations" are important!—it's still against the law to operate a cab without a TLC license. TLC Chair Meera Joshi says, "We’re still hopeful that Lyft will accept our offer to help them do the right thing for New York City passengers as they should, but New Yorkers can rest assured that the TLC will do its job and take the actions necessary to protect them."
Lyft doesn't seem too eager to cooperate: "We don’t believe any city law has the jurisdiction to do anything to these drivers,” Zimmer told the Post. “If they take any action, it will be unfortunate for the community. We feel we are not tied into those laws.”
Well, okay then. If these lawless cabbies don't terrify you, Lyft's offering two weeks of free rides starting Friday. Please wear a seatbelt.