Anyone downtown late in the evening knows how challenging it is to get taxi service. Price Tags Vancouver has previously written about taxis who don’t show up when they say they will, won’t pick up seniors for shorter runs and have inconsistent customer service. Even radio talk show hosts Steele and Drex have been discussing the fact that pre-booked cabs are not guaranteed, and the frustration for hotel guests and hotel who assume they can hail a cab on the street-and hotel managers that have to explain that there is no Lyft or Uber car service.
Meanwhile, Lyft has moved into the Toronto market as reported by Tyler Orton for Business in Vancouver. This is Lyft’s first foray outside of the United States, choosing Toronto because of ” its size and existing regulatory framework.”
Lyft was founded in San Francisco in 2012 and operates in 300 cities. Lyft has reported that they have had 50,000 downloads of their app in Toronto and offer services to and between Hamilton, Oshawa and Newmarket Ontario. As the CBC reports “Lyft operates much like its competitor Uber. Riders download an app to their smartphone, where they’re able to request a ride at specific pickup and drop off locations.The app also provides an estimate of the ride’s cost and sends a driver to the customer in minutes. Payment, including tips, are also managed through the app. At the end of the trip, riders have the option to rate their drivers.”
Lyft’s pricing structure will be similar to Uber, with Lyft’s management insisting that their drivers make a decent wage working for then, and that there is a different customer experience. The major taxi companies balk at the introduction of Lyft to the Toronto market, citing the King Street streetcar pilot as a “way to keep our city moving”.
And in British Columbia? The Provincial government has delayed allowing ride-hailing services, originally promised for the winter of 2017. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has ordered a review of the taxi industry and ride-hailing services, with an expected completion date of Spring 2018. In the interim, the Toronto experience with two ride hailing services in their jurisdiction will provide more information on the effectiveness for customers and the impacts of these upstart technologies.