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Thursday, June 12, 2014

When you need a Lyft

There are a couple new ride-sharing services in the county which may or may not be operating as of this writing -- Lyft and Uberx  are services where actual people (as opposed to actual cab drivers) take you where you want to go.  Fred Grimm at The Herald had a great column on this on Sunday.

Basically the two car services are sort of grass roots taxi services. You download the apps and when you need a ride you procure it through your cell phone and you can also be a driver with car service yourself if you want, using your own vehicle, you would drive people around when you are available, responding to a request via the app. Uberx has a presence in 128 cities in 37 countries. Lyft cars have a big bushy pink mustache like seen here.

I thought this would be a good idea for my next ride to the airport, I downloaded both apps.  I usually call a cab, not wanting to bother anyone I know for a ride. And also, the other day I had my car in for service and I was thinking how convenient a trolley would be (I'm still working on that), but one of these local car services would have been perfect, too. But it looks like I'll have to wait to see what happens now, as the county is running a sting operation on the Lyft and Uberx car services. Undercover cops are making reservations, then taking the rides and then arresting the drivers and fining them -- up to $2000. And there are impound fees of $1000 or so, too.

I'm not sure how I feel about it as the drivers don't have a chauffeur's license or any other licenses needed by cab drivers, but to be honest, the cabs may have the proper licenses, but the rides are nothing special. In just the last year I have had a cab driver get lost taking me to Coconut Grove from the airport, I got into one cab that smelled so bad that I made him stop before we left the airport so I could get out and get into another cab and I've had one break down on the expressway. All, ironically taking me from the airport to home. I don't usually have a problem going from home to the airport, but in 9 out of 10 cases, the cab driver is on his cell phone the whole time, luckily not texting, but still, talking and they aren't handless calls.

It's amazing how we put our trust in a total stranger to get us places safely.

I am assuming the Lyft and Uberx drivers are more careful, more courteous and since it's their own cars, they probably don't smell and neither does the car and I'm sure they aren't on the phone the whole time while driving you around.

The car services have the drivers covered with all sorts of insurance for car accidents with liability up to $1 million. They cover all major car insurance and uncovered drivers, too, meaning the other guy, not the rider-service people. The drivers are totally checked out for drivers license, past violations, tickets, safety records, even for crimes or anything in their background which may not be desirable, including drug use. 

But county regulators are against this service, which by the way, is all run through the app, no money changes hands, much easier than the current yellow cabs in the county which don't even take credit cards. (The cabs in NYC do, a real pleasure when you're out of town and want to conserve cash). Many think the Miami-Dade County regulators are being swayed by the taxi lobby, who don't want competition. Yet they don't do anything to improve their product.

Fred Grimm goes on to quote crime statistics from robberies to rapes in the county and feels that the car services are not a crime and that the police should be going after "real crimes." Fred's whole column may be seen here.

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Blogger Michelle Niemeyer said...

I would stand up for the cab drivers, but in reality most don't own their cabs, they work like slaves to exhaustion for the people who own the medallion and the car while not making a lot of money. Five years ago a cab backed into my car at about 40 mph heading the wrong way down Virginia toward the Mayfair to catch a fare. The driver had 7 or eight moving violations (dismissed after being handled by a ticket lawyer) and was specifically excluded from the vehicle's insurance. The taxi was insured but the driver (the only driver assigned to the cab) wasn't, nor was the cab if driven by him. Our taxi situation is a mess. Complaints to the county went nowhere.

June 12, 2014 11:17 AM  
Blogger Tony Scornavacca Jr. said...

These new apps are here to stay. Smart phones and the internet allow people to get what they need, when they need it. It's evolution.

June 12, 2014 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The technology makes catching a fare more efficient and empowers drivers which makes medallion horders threatened.

June 12, 2014 8:53 PM  
Blogger ArthurG said...

My story will sound familiar. After moving here last summer, I called a taxi for a trip from my Grove home to the airport. It didn't show. I got another taxi in the nick of time. On my return, I had a driver who seemed never to have heard of Coconut Grove but was vaguely aware of the Home Depot on Grove. I directed him from there. The car was a mess, he couldn't or wouldn't take a credit card. I think of my experiences in Chicago or New York and am just amazed, especially with Miami's dependence on tourism. Now I just take the train.

June 13, 2014 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've free lanced my entire life and love being independently employed - - - - however, remember the food trucks/vans when people complained they didn't have to pay high rents, employees, withholding taxes, etc. I dove for lobster South of Jamaica to avoid all the regulations stateside, no red lights, congestion, civilization, total freedom underwater, like flying. I read that Lyft & Uberx prices are similar to that of taxies. In Brazil most homes on thoroughfares [streets without red lights & numerous stop signs for 10 blocks] own some kind of business. One was a frog farm with frogs 2 feet long & I have the pictures. Recently I had art tile in my front yard and Miami code enforcement placed $780,000.00 in liens on my home and spent about $700,000.00 defending against my lawsuit, which I won in federal court. I'm sure that there are several attorney's on both sides reading every word in every regulation/law that applies to this situation, which will make it to the Florida Supreme Court in short order. Until then, who knows!?

June 13, 2014 12:53 PM  
Anonymous swlip said...

Taxi service in Miami sucks to High Heaven and will continue to suck as long as the county commission protects the cab owners from competition.

June 13, 2014 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is an embarrassment that Miami does not allow these services. Stop voting for the big-government special-interest politicians and maybe things will change.

June 15, 2014 4:03 PM  

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