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Lyft Application text
Type Ridesharing Application
Launch Date 2012
Status Active
Product Line Service
Platform iOS, Android
Website Lyft Official Website
is a rideshare platform launched in 2012 that is used on mobile devices to connect users with drivers. The company is currently valued at $7.5 billion and operates in over 300 cities in the United States and 9 cities in Canada. Users interact with the app by creating a profile and linking their location. From that point, users can request a ride from any of the active drivers in that specific area. Drivers will typically arrive within a few minutes of the request. When requesting a ride, riders have the ability to choose between different cars (higher quality cars, XL cars that can fit more people) and prices. Lyft also offers a feature where riders and drivers can rate one another depending on the quality of the ride. Lyft and their main competitor, Uber, share many of the same features. These two companies have revolutionized the world of automobile transportation, and in many ways, have overtaken usage of the taxicab. Lyft has struggled with the treatment of their drivers, which has recently resulted in a 27 million dollar lawsuit against the company. In addition to this issue, Lyft has experienced several ethical and operational complications, including issues involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, local regulations, insurance, privacy, passenger discrimination, and airport policies.


Logan Green, CEO, and John Zimmer, President of Lyft. [1]

John Zimmer attended Cornell University and has a background in hospitality; he was particularly inspired by a class he took on the evolution of creating greener cities. This led to the idea of streamlining transportation with more effective models. When learning about cars and the road system, Zimmer was intrigued by the low rate of occupancy of public transportation. He realized that if you could increase the occupancy by a mere ten percent, it would create a more efficient society. Logan Green's background was specifically in transportation hacking, as he built the first car-share program predating such competitors as Zipcar, at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He was constantly frustrated with the public transportation system and how it was funded. He expressed desire to build a transportation system that was operated and financed in a better way. [2]

John Zimmer and Logan Green founded Lyft on May 22, 2012. They originally created a company called Zimride in 2007, which was very similar to Lyft but was geared towards long distance rides connecting people through Facebook. [3] However, there was a stronger market for short distance journeys, which was a market Zimride was unable to satisfy. Thus, Lyft was created to better address this need, and the company has experienced growth since its inception. Initially created in San Francisco, Lyft offers services across the U.S. and parts of Canada. It is currently pursuing international expansion opportunities [4] Lyft has been a primary competitor of Uber, with both companies offering low-priced private drivers that are accessible with the click of a button. Lyft complemented Zimride, as these companies were accessible to ridesharers for both short and long distances. However, Zimride was sold to Enterprise on the 10th of July 2013, as Lyft was a more profitable venture for Zimmer and Green. [5]

Passenger Application Features

How to Start Using the Application

Homepage of Lyft on mobile application interface.

In order to be a customer of the service, users must create an account linked to their phone number and credit card, Google Wallet, or PayPal account. When using the phone app, Lyft uses GPS tracking to determine the location of the user and the availability of cars around them. In order to request a ride, a user must confirm the pickup location and select the type of car they would prefer. The user can then add their destination and view a price estimate, which includes additional charges that typically occur during times of day in which rides are in high demand or traffic is heavier than usual. The user then taps the “Requests Lyft” button and they are connected to the closest driver in the area.

Once the driver within their vicinity has been connected to the user, the application provides the driver’s estimated arrival time based on the distance and current traffic conditions. As the Lyft approaches, the rider is provided with the driver’s name, rating, car make and model, and the license plate number. Users can track the location of their car in relation to the pickup location on the application’s map, and can also view the estimated time until the car arrives, can contact the driver, split the fee for the ride with friends, send the estimated time of arrival to others, and cancel the ride from this screen. Users will receive a text notification from their driver once their ride and also have the ability to call their driver. [6]

In March 2015, Lyft made it possible for users to add personal profiles including where they are from, and their favorite music to encourage more personal connections between the passengers and their drivers. [7]

Lyft Tiers

Tiers Description
Lyft Lyft is the application's most basic service as well as the lowest cost option. Vehicles in this class generally seat up to four passengers. [8] It is the most popular option for Lyft users.
Lyft Plus Includes vehicles seating up to six passengers. Lyft Plus is more expensive than the basic Lyft option. [9]
Lyft Premier Consisting of luxury sedans that seat up to four passengers, Lyft Premier is only available in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. These vehicles have premium features such as leather interiors made by manufacturers like Audi, Mercedes, BMW, and Jaguar. [10]
Lyft Line New service that is similar to a carpooling. It pairs users with other nearby passengers that have a similar end destination. Lyft Line is helpful to users who are commuting or traveling to popular destinations, such as airports or tourist destinations. This service is up to 60% less expensive than a regular Lyft as passengers share the fee. Lyft Line is more densely populated in larger cities. [11]

Pricing Equation


The calculation of ride payments is based on five different factors: cost per mile, cost per minute, base charge, service fee, and prime time. The distance is the cost per each mile and the time is the cost per minute during the trip. The base charge is the flat charge assessed at the beginning of the trip and the service fee is the Lyft platform charge for each ride. Primetime is an additional surcharge added during the busy times. [12]

The following table shows the cost of a Lyft in Los Angeles at a given time. [13]

Lyft Prime Time

Primetime encourages drivers to be on the roads during the busy times of the day where demand is high. Primetime varies each second depending on how many people are requesting Lyft. If there is a Prime Time surge happening in the location, the user will receive a notification pop up with the added percentage requiring confirmation of their ride. For example, if a ride costs $10 (before other fees) and there is a 150% Prime Time, the ride will cost $25 (+ other fees). [14]

Two-Way Ratings

At the end of the ride, the driver and the passenger have the chance to rate each other on a scale of one to five stars, with a rating of one being the lowest. If either the passenger or the driver rates under three stars, they will never be paired as a driver-passenger match again. If a driver is consistently getting low ratings, Lyft may deactivate the driver from the platform or investigate the cause of the lower ratings. Each driver receives a weekly summary of their ratings with comments left by passengers. [15]


Lyft is considered a ridesharing company, which is an arrangement where passengers travel in a private vehicle driven by its owner for a fee. Lyft's biggest rival is Uber who has dominated the ridesharing industry since 2009. Uber has a similar setup to Lyft as both companies require a ride-hailing application. Uber is worth $68 billion and dominates the industry in more than 60 countries. [16] In order to compete with Uber, Lyft merged with a Chinese ridesharing application called DiDi. DiDi controls approximately 80 percent of the ridesharing market in China. This partnership will allow DiDi to function in the United States and Lyft to operate in China. Lyft users will be able to use the Lyft application in China to find DiDi drivers rather than re-downloading a new service. [17]

In the early months of 2017, Uber was the subject of a lot of negative press. During that time, they were accused of cheating both riders and drivers by using manipulative navigation data; there were also many claims of sexual harassment surfacing that were directed at senior management employees, and the company was also accused of using a secret tool to deceive authorities[18]. In response to the immigration ban enacted by the presidential administration earlier in the year, yellow-cab drivers led an hour-long work stoppage in opposition. In response, Uber replied that they were still available for business and many people viewed this as the company attempting to capitalize on the situation and claimed that it was done in poor taste. The board is working diligently on repairing the company's tarnished reputation, company culture, and leadership. However, this influx of bad publicity for their competitor created an opportunity for Lyft to get a major boost in this market. They've seen large increases in ride requests and have secured $500 million in a new round of funding, as of April 2017[19]. On January 29th, Lyft surpassed Uber for downloads for the first time in the company's history.

In the News

Lyft is donating $1 million over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This pledge is in response to the executive order that places limits on travel to the U.S. from certain countries signed by President Donald Trump to temporarily assess the risk of terrorists infiltrating the immigration system into the U.S. [20]

Recently, Lyft has also agreed to pay $27 million to settle a lawsuit against the company. Lyft considers their drivers as contractors rather than employees. Under the new deal that was just signed, Lyft drivers will continue to be considered independent contractors and pay for their own gas and expenses while not being covered under minimum-wage laws. 100,000 drivers could be eligible to receive part of the $27 million depending on how many hours they have driven for Lyft. [21]

Lyft and Uber representatives in Oregon are promoting a bill that would allow the state of Oregon to regulate the companies instead of individual cities. This type of regulation would set uniform rules for the companies throughout the state. [22] These regulations would allow Lyft to treat drivers as independent contractors. Meaning that the companies would not have to pay payroll taxes on these employees, or provide them with benefits or workers compensation insurance. [23]


Lyft claims they are dedicated to maintaining an inclusive and accommodating ride-sharing service. Their anti-discrimination policies prohibit discrimination against passengers on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, physical or mental disability, mental condition, marital status, age, or sexual orientation. [24].

Protection of Driver

Lyft has a system in place for providing aid to drivers in the case of accidents, citations, or other emergency situations. They have a critical response team that can be contacted 24/7 a week; however Lyft is not substitute for​​ ​emergency transportation.​ ​If there is an emergency situation, 911 or​​ ​the local non-emergency assistance line is to be contacted if appropriate. If a situation where a passenger encounters an emergency, they are recommended to contact 911.​ ​​After that, they are to contact the critical response line so appropriate action can be taken.

To make sure your driver rating isn’t affected by an emergency situation, please contact us so we can take appropriate action.

Lyft drivers and violence from passengers is something that occurs, and is a grey area for the company.


Lyft sets out to ensure the safety of all passengers using their service. The Trust and Safety Team is a critical response line that is available 24/7 in the case of emergencies. Passengers are instructed to first dial 911 and contact local non-emergency authorities before using their call tool to reach the Critical Response Line. To maintain a level of standards amongst drivers and safety for its customers, all drivers must meet the following requirements during the screening process:

  • DMV or third-party background checks (criminal background checks include both national and county-level databases and records stretching back to 7 years in states like California, and even longer in others).
  • Minimum age requirement of 21, along with the possession of a license for at least a year.
  • Zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol.
  • In-person interview with current Lyft driver.

Drivers that meet all requirements are covered by the Lyft Insurance Protection Plan that utilizes Lyft's $1 million liability insurance. The liability serves as primary to the driver's personal automobile insurance policy as soon as they switch into driver mode up until each moment they drop off their passenger.[25].

Some incidents have arisen some concerns over passenger and driver safety. In 2014, a driver was punched in the face by a passenger after the driver asked the passenger to stop smoking. [26] In a response from Lyft, they noted that the passenger's Lyft account was deactivated and that he was blocked from making any new Lyft accounts. [26]

Yousef Hamed

In New Orleans, Louisiana on January 23, 2019, a Lyft driver named Yousef Hamed picked up an intoxicated woman after a night of drinking in order to take her back to her apartment. At some point during the ride, the driver claimed to have finished the ride signaling to the woman’s friend that she had been dropped off at home. Instead, he took her back to his home and invited her inside. Once inside his home, he proceeded to rape her and then dropped her off at her apartment. The next day the woman reported the rape and Hamed was put in jail on a $400,000 bond despite claiming that the sex was consensual; however, an intoxicated person cannot provide proper consent according to authorities. Lyft representatives have claimed that under no circumstances should a driver ever bring a passenger to their home and do not condone this behavior [27].

Jerome Booze

In December 2016, Jerome Antonio Booze, an at the time Lyft driver, picked up a 21-year old intoxicated woman from her friend’s birthday party in order to take her back to her house. At 4 am her friends made sure she made it into the car safely by putting her in the Lyft but when the Booze arrived at her house, he proceeded to partake in unconsenting sex with her in the back seat of her car. The next day she reported the rape to the police and Lyft representatives responded to the case by banning Booze from the application, assisting the police with the investigation and claiming how devasted the company was by this tragedy. In March of 2019, Booze was sentenced to 35 years in prison and will serve life on probation when he is released [28].

Passenger Discrimination

Recently, Lyft and other ride-sharing applications including Uber have been accused of failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Allegedly, Lyft drivers have discriminated against people in wheelchairs or with service animals, either refusing to transport them or charging excessive prices to do so. Outlined on Lyft's website are policies that explicitly state that drivers are responsible for transporting all passengers in wheelchairs, so long as the wheelchair can safely and securely fit in the car. If a wheelchair cannot be accommodated for some reason, the driver must cancel the ride and contact the Critical Response Line for further help. [29] Policies also state that drivers cannot deny service to passengers with service animals, even if that driver is allergic to the animal, afraid of such animals, or has cultural objection toward them. According to Lyft, discrimination can result in deactivation from the platform.[30]

Within the application, there is a feature called "Access Mode," which enables passengers with accessibility needs to complete ridesharing transactions through the app. Once a passenger grants access, they can request permission to be able to request rides with locally accessible vehicles. "Access Mode" dispatches a wheelchair accessible vehicle instead of a standard Lyft vehicle when a passenger in need of accommodations requests a ride. However, "Access Mode" is not available in all markets, and these accessible vehicles are not always available 24/7 like standard Lyft cars. The registration process aforementioned may take several weeks to complete and accessible vehicles often have to be requested at least 24 hours in advance. Passengers with accessibility needs may not always be guaranteed fast and easy transportation when needed, defeating the purpose of the application. [31]

Local Regulations

Lyft operates all over the United States; however, some local governments require extra steps from those who are looking to become a Lyft driver. Most Lyft driver applicants meet with a representative from Lyft to have their car inspected and to take a practice ride in order to ensure that their driving is safe enough to generally avoid accidents. A few cities require applicants to go to an inspection facility or meet with a mechanic in order to be approved as a Lyft driver. Approved applicants are not required to display a Lyft emblem in their windshield, however, they are strongly encouraged to do so. If a Lyft driver chooses not to display the Lyft emblem in their car and is caught, the only potential consequence could be receiving a citation. [32]

Airport Policies

Some airports have strict policies regarding where passengers are allowed to be picked up and dropped off, and some even prohibit Lyft drivers from transporting passengers to and from the airport altogether. Because airports are one of greatest sources of profit for taxi and limousine companies, airports will generally take extra steps to ensure that taxi and limo drivers will still have a market for rides. Because taxi and limousine drivers are required to have city licenses or permits in addition to paying fees for each airport pickup or drop off, cornering the ride market to and from airports allows them to profit more from those traveling to and from airports. Ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber can be cheaper and easier to request than taxis, especially for longer trips, which has led many airport travelers and Lyft drivers to attempt to find ways of getting around these restrictions. For example, some people take shuttle buses to rental car lots and call Lyft rides from there; in many of these cases, Lyft drivers will often remove the Lyft emblem from their cars in addition to asking passengers to sit in the front seat so that it appears less like a Lyft ride.[33]

Lyft has partnered with airports across to country to make the pick-up and drop-off processes easier for both Lyft passengers and drivers. On Lyft's website, there is a list of airports that allow passengers to be picked up and dropped off by Lyft drivers, with a set of detailed instructions for each airport for drivers to follow when doing so. [34] Also on the website is a guide for passengers to use when determining which airports allow Lyft pickups and drop-offs, the coverage area for the corresponding cities, and pricing details for the ride itself.[35] Regardless, travelers are motivated to disobey airport policies to save money and Lyft drivers are motivated to disobey airport policies to make money.


Lyft, similar to Uber, informs passengers of the total cost of their ride, including cost, fees, taxes, tolls, and Prime Time, before the ride is requested; however, if the passenger changes their destination in the middle of their ride or the ride takes more or less time than expected, the price of the ride is subjected to change. Since pricing is unfixed, passengers may end up paying more than originally expected. [36]

Aforementioned, Lyft's Prime Time happens at times when demand is higher than normal. Passengers typically pay an additional percentage on top of the original ride's price when they request a ride during Prime Time. [37] Passengers of Lyft often find Prime Time pricing unfair since they most likely are in need of Lyft's services during these peak hours. Taxi companies, unlike Lyft and Uber, do not have surge pricing during peak hours, in part because they too question the ethical implications of such pricing. [38] However, Prime Time pricing is readily announced before the ride begins so Lyft is not hiding the reason for the higher cost. Prime Time usually occurs late at night when people are using Lyft to get home safely after a night of drinking. Raising the cost means some people will be more inclined to drive drunk or walk home alone putting themselves and others in harm's way.

See Also

External Links


  1. 40 Under 40. "Logan Green and John Zimmer."
  2. Lynley, Matt. "Meet Lyft, A Startup Trying To Change San Francisco's Decades-Old Transportation System." 2012. Retrieved on 19 March 2017.
  3. Russell, Jon. "Zimride Is Closing Its Public Ride-Sharing Service To Focus On Corporates And Students". 2015. Retrieved on 1 March 2017.
  4. History. "Lyft Success Story." Retrieved on 1 March 2017.
  5. Gallagher, Billy. "Founders John Zimmer & Logan Green Explain How Lyft Was Born Out Of Zimride." 2013.Retrieved on 1 March 2017.
  6. How to Request a Ride. "All about Lyft." Retrieved on 15 February 2017.
  7. Company Site. "Lyft Official Site." Retrieved on 15 February 2017.
  8. Dough. "What’s the difference between Lyft, Lyft Plus, Lyft Line, and Premier?" 2016. Retrieved on 15 February 2017.
  9. Dough. "What’s the difference between Lyft, Lyft Plus, Lyft Line, and Premier?" 2016. Retrieved on 15 February 2017.
  10. Dough. "What’s the difference between Lyft, Lyft Plus, Lyft Line, and Premier?" 2016. Retrieved on 15 February 2017.
  11. Dough. "What’s the difference between Lyft, Lyft Plus, Lyft Line, and Premier?" 2016. Retrieved on 15 February 2017.
  12. "Calculating the Cost of a Lyft Ride." Retrieved on 17 February 2017.
  13. Dough. "Get a Lyft fare estimate" 2016. Retrieved on 17 February 2017.
  14. "Prime Time for Passengers" Retrieved on 19 February 2017.
  15. Lyft. "Driver and Passenger Ratings." Retrieved on 19 February 2017.
  16. Johnson, Madeline. "Competitors." 2016. Retrieved on 19 March 2017.
  17. Isaac, Mike. "Lyft Announces Deal With Didi Kuaidi, the Chinese Ride-Hailing Company" 2015. Retrieved on 19 March 2017.
  18. Reuters. Uber’s board still stands by their CEO amidst a significant amount of controversy. New York Post Retrieved on 8 April 2017
  19. Isaac, Mike. New York Times. Lyft Gets $500 Million in New Funding as Its Rival Uber Wobbles 2017. Retrieved on 8 April 2017
  20. Liptak, Andrew. "Lyft is donating $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union" 2017. Retrieved on 18 February 2017.
  21. Dave, Paresh. "Union-backed Lyft drivers object to $27-million settlement" 2016. Retrieved on 19 March 2017.
  22. Liptak, Andrew. "Uber, Lyft Representatives Push for State Regulations" 2017. Retrieved on 5, April 2017.
  23. Liptak, Andrew. "Uber, Lyft Representatives Push for State Regulations" 2017. Retrieved on 5, April 2017.
  24. Lyft, Inc. "Anti-Discrimination Policies." Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2017..
  25. Lyft Safety
  26. 26.0 26.1 Hill, Kashmir."Lyft's Moment of Truth As Passenger Breaks Seattle Driver's Nose" Forbes (21 May 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2017).
  27. Miller, Joshua Rhett. “Lyft Driver Charged with Kidnapping, Raping Intoxicated Female Passenger.” New York Post, 8 Feb. 2019.
  28. Burns, Asia Simone. “Ex-Lyft Driver Sentenced to 35 Years for Raping Cobb Woman on Ride Home.” Ajc, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 20 Mar. 2019.
  29. Lyft, Inc. "Wheelchair Policy." Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.
  30. Lyft, Inc. "Service Animal Policy." Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.
  31. Lyft, Inc. "Accessible Vehicle Dispatch" Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.
  32. Lyft, Inc. "All City and State Requirements Overview." Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.
  33. Close, Kerry. "This Is Why You Can't Take An Uber Home From The Airport | Money." Time. Time, 7 July 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.
  34. Lyft, Inc. "Airport Information for Drivers." Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.
  35. Lyft, Inc. "Airport Information for Passengers." Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.
  36. Golson, Jordan. "Lyft Now Shows Your Fare before You Ride, Just like Uber." THE VERGE. N.p., 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <>.
  37. Lyft, Inc. "Prime Time for Passengers." Lyft Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. <>.
  38. Suranovic, Steven. "Surge Pricing and Price Gouging." Institute for International Economic Policy Working Paper Series (n.d.): n. pag. George Washington University, Dec. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.