Lyft is one of a new generation of ride-sharing companies that operate with drivers who use their own vehicles. It originated in San Francisco, as did its closest competitors, Uber and SideCar.
To use Lyft, a would-be passenger downloads its smartphone app, connects via Facebook and provides credit card information for payment purposes. Passengers and drivers connect via the app. After a ride, both rate each other with the passenger choosing how much, if anything, to pay on a donation-based payment structure.
Lyft cars have furry pink mustaches on their front grills, and try to promote a social atmosphere, with passengers invited to sit in the front seat and drivers encouraged to greet passengers with a fist bump.
Uber, which had its Pittsburgh launch last month, doesn’t require Facebook registration, but the UberX service it operates in Pittsburgh also handles rides and transactions via a smartphone app.
When Lyft launched in Pittsburgh on Feb. 7, local taxi companies protested that its status as an unlicensed car service was akin to a jitney service, and that it was skirting state licensing and insurance rules.