Ride-sharing startups like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft are certainly causing a stir across the country and especially here in Seattle, where taxi cab companies are protesting a serious new threat to their business.
But companies like Lyft believe they provide a positive impact on the city, and to demonstrate this, Lyft is holding its second-ever Community Meeting Thursday evening in Capitol Hill to rally support for ride-sharing in anticipation of a City Council meeting next week that will address the hot issue of peer-to-peer transportation.
“The meeting gives an opportunity to bring drivers and passengers together for the first time in Seattle,” said Erin Simpson, director of communications at Lyft. “For the past few months we’ve heard so many positive stories and the goal of today’s meeting is to show the city why this innovation in transportation is actually making things safer, easier, affordable and reliable.”
Lyft, which landed $60 million from Andreessen Horowitz in May, became the third ride-sharing startup to arrive in the Seattle market this past April, joining the other two startups in the city. If you’ve seen cars driving around with pink mustaches, that’s Lyft.
With services like Lyft and SideCar, passengers use their smartphones to try to locate nearby drivers who have a similar destination. Unlike Uber, which relies on professional Town Car drivers, car owners actually sign up to provide transportation to neighbors, co-workers, friends and others. Drivers are vetted before being accepted into the network.
Taxi companies, which require much more regulation, aren’t exactly supportive of their new competition and have been protesting for quite some time. Seattle’s city leaders will decide what to do with this new dilemma by November. Cities like New York and D.C. have already made ride-sharing services illegal, while California is trying to regulate them.
Today’s meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Fred Wildlife Refuge in Capitol Hill. GeekWire will be at today’s rally and we’ll have a chance to speak with Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, so check back later tonight for another update.