'Lyft' app connects drivers with riders

'Lyft' app connects drivers with riders

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Need a ride around Oahu? There's an app for that.

It's called  "Lyft" and it connects drivers with riders.

It's hard to miss the hot pink mustache on the road, Lyft's quirky call sign.

Sophina Placencia is one of Honolulu's first drivers. She said, "I live out in Waianae so you can imagine I spend a lot of time on the road and since I'm out on the road, it just made sense to put my car to work."

Think of the app as a matchmaker. You request a ride, the driver accepts and after a fist bump greeting, you're ready to hit the road in their car.

"You're greeting them with a fist bump" explains Placencia. "You're approaching them with a pink mustache. It creates a more personal environment that you know, I am your friend with a car."

It is a social network so a bad passenger or driver will be on the outs with a 5-star rating scale.

All drivers are screened and given a criminal background check. Placencia said, "I was more concerned because I had no clue who I would be picking up."

It's a cashless community. Drivers are paid through the app, on average 20 percent less than cabs cost.

EcoCab owner David Jung says Lyft gets a free ride from regulators. Jung said, "I don't understand why the taxi has to be regulated by the City whereas the Lyft gets to regulate itself. We're objecting to it because it's not a level playing field and we believe ultimately it is to the detriment of the consumer."

Taxis must carry commercial insurance, undergo calibration checks every year, and drivers have to pass physical and points of interest tests.

EcoCab contracts with Uber Taxi, a similar app. Jung says, "Leveraging technology to benefit the community is great. Just don't do it at the expense of safety."

Safety concerns go both ways. Placencia recalled the murder of a taxi driver, saying, "Of course we all know locally about the taxi driver at Tantalus so my parents were just like what are you thinking."

She reasons it's like giving a lift to a friend, with benefits, saying "I can tell you I've already paid gas for my car from just one person so I'm pretty happy about that."

The app's free-- and so are rides for the first two weeks to celebrate Lyft's launch in Honolulu.

Drivers expect the local network to grow as a natural extension of the aloha spirit.

Cities and regulators are still perplexed how to regulate the growing peer to peer community.

Honolulu is the 6th U.S. City served by Lyft.

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