Ride-sharing company Lyft will begin service in the East Bay on Monday, just in time to take passengers to holiday parties and drive home those who indulged in too much eggnog.
Lyft rides will be available in the East Bay from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge south the San Mateo Bridge, and as far east as Lafayette in Contra Costa County. San Francisco-based Lyft provides peer-to-peer rides for a donation. Users order a ride through a mobile app and get picked up by a private car outfitted with the signature pink mustache.
Lyft, along with fellow hire-a-car app companies Sidecar and Uber, were scrutinized for operating outside of state transportation regulations for about a year, and were fined and ordered to stop operating by the Public Utilities Commission. However, in September, state commissioners approved new regulations to license on-demand, Web-based ride services and require them to meet certain safety standards while allowing the nascent — and increasingly popular — service to continue growing. Since that ruling, Lyft has quickly expanded, adding about a new city a week and is now in 20 markets that stretch from Washington, D.C. to Phoenix and Seattle. In the Bay Area, Lyft has drivers in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and now in the East Bay.
The new state regulations require that Lyft applies for a license by January as a Transportation Network Company, a transit category created by the PUC. Lyft will also swap out donation payments for a fixed fare for California passengers. Sidecar already did away with donations and has established fixed fares, but they are still cheaper than most city cabs.
Image from Bloomberg