(WMC) – You may have seen a few cars driving around town with pink mustaches on the front. Those cars are with Lyft, a company that provides ride sharing in Memphis.
Lyft is one of two ride-sharing companies that are now in the Bluff City. Both are offering two weeks of free rides through their ride-sharing apps, but some people have questions about this service.
Uber and Lyft are getting a lot of attention, especially those in the start-up community. But are these ride-sharing options safe? And are you covered if something happens while you're in a ridesharing car?
"We're like your friend with a car," said Lyft driver Lyndzy Lucchesi.
You can't miss Lucchesi, she wears a blue wig, drives a blue car, and like all Lyft drivers, has a pink mustache on front of her car.
"It's a peer-to-peer ride sharing program, regular people like me with our own cars that can pick you up, and it's very convenient," said Lucchesi.
It's the very convenience that draws entrepreneur and app user, Scott Finney to the use Lyft to get from place to place.
"Mainly the visibility, I can see where the driver is and how long it's going to take for them to get to me," said Finney.
But not everyone is on board with the idea of ride sharing in Memphis. Deborah Crawford, with Premier Transportation, says there are no regulations in place for drivers.
"The transportation industry needs regulation, because who you're riding with matters." Said Crawford.
She says regulation is there to protect riders and drivers. In their case, they must get a City of Memphis issued permit, get a government background check, and submit random drug tests. She says their drivers are independent contractors, but their insurance policy is different that most ride sharing companies.
"Our insurance for regulated companies starts at the first dollar of the accident," said Crawford.
Lyft says it carries a $1 million excess liability policy that drops down to the first dollar in the event a driver's personal policy isn't collectible, and it covers both drivers and passengers. You can find specific information on their insurance policy, as well as a graphic explaining it here: http://blog.lyft.com/posts/2014/4/11/lyft-insurance-overview.
Crawford says most personal insurance policies don't cover accidents that happen while a driver is working for hire. Meaning the driver operates under the assumption they are insured, while passengers could potentially pay a price if they are involved in an accident with an approved driver.
It should be noted that Lyft drivers are not employees of the company but rather independent contractors who set their own hours. Drivers also drive their own personal vehicles. These are big differentiators between Lyft and traditional transportation models.
All drivers must pass a criminal background and DMV driving record check, as well as undergo a 19-point vehicle inspection and safety ride along with a trained member of the Lyft team. Drive have to be at least 23 years old and have no violent criminal background. You can view their inspection process here: https://www.lyft.com/safety.
Regardless of the insurance policies, permits and regulations, Lyft users like Finney, say they continue to use what's most convenient for them.
"For myself, the benefits out weigh the negatives, especially with Lyft there's a real community building aspect to it," said Finney.
Below you'll find specific answers to the questions we asked Lyft:
What's the insurance policy for drivers? Does it cover passengers?
Lyft carries a $1 million excess liability policy that drops down to the first dollar in the event a driver's personal policy isn't collectible, and covers both drivers and passengers. Lyft also carries uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and contingent collision coverage - more detail about all the insurance coverages can be found here: http://blog.lyft.com/posts/2014/4/11/lyft-insurance-overview
How do you select drivers?
All drivers must pass a criminal background and DMV driving record check, as well as undergo a 19-point vehicle inspection and safety ride along with a trained member of the Lyft team. More information on driver requirements and the strict exclusions that would prevent someone from receiving approval to drive on the Lyft platform can be found here: https://www.lyft.com/safety
What made you choose Memphis?
On April 24, Lyft launched 24 cities in 24 hours. These cities - including Memphis - have strong community roots and local hometown pride that make them all great fits for Lyft. Many residents of these cities rely heavily on their own cars to get around town, and we wanted them to have an opportunity to leave their cars at home, or to give rides to their neighbors and put their empty seats to new use.
Lyft is thrilled to now offer residents of and visitors to Tennessee's largest city the most convenient, affordable, and safest rides to and from all Memphis' prolific art, music and foodie events. Also, a peer-to-peer ridesharing platform known for pink mustaches on drivers' cars is a natural fit in the home of Elvis, Graceland and the "Pink Cadillac."
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