Chat transcript: Latest on Lyft and Uber in Pittsburgh

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sid bream:Hello, Kim

Kim Lyons:Hi Mr. Bream. We'll get started in a moment, thanks for coming by

Kim Lyons:OK almost ready to get going here, just waiting to see Jerry's sports chat wrap up

Kim Lyons:I'll give folks a few more minutes to stop in, but first, here's my latest article on the state of ride sharing in Pittsburgh:

Kim Lyons:

rachel:hi Kim I have a question

Kim Lyons:Hi Rachel, what's your question?

Sean:hopefully there will be some lyft drivers on here. I posted the link on our NE driver board

Kim Lyons:Thanks, Sean, hope to hear from some drivers as well

rachel:if I am riding in a lyft car can i get a ticket also?

Kim Lyons:Good question. I asked the PUC whether there was any provision to penalize passengers in ride share vehicles, answer was "no."

sid bream:I am a lyft driver Kim. Would really like to see a rep from the PUC here

Kim Lyons:I did invite the PUC, Sid. Would love to hear from them.

Larry:Keep dreaming Sid

Maxx:Lyft driver here. More of a passenger the last month since I've been so busy with other work though

Kim Lyons:Maxx: How do you like driving for Lyft? Are you making as much money as you thought?

Amy:I know we need more cab service in Pittsburgh, but the solution isn't a free-for-all. There must be some level of regulation that protects consumers and drivers and does not stifle competition. Uber and Lyft seem to be playing up the idea that they're scrappy little companies fighting the establishment, but they're not- they're heavily capitalized companies that are trying to gain an unfair advantage by skirting regulations. I think this could be a wake-up for us to take a look at the current regulations and see what could be changed for the good.

Kim Lyons:You are right that both Lyft and Uber are well-financed; Uber is currently valued at $18 billion

Kim Lyons:And I was interested to see what Colorado did recently:

Kim Lyons:

Maxx:I love it. I feel like I'm providing a much needed service to our city, people who want to go out drinking feel like they can rely on our service and therefore I feel like I'm helping keep drunk people off the road, I get to meet a lot of great people while I 'work' - and yeah, the money has exceeded my expectations

Kim Lyons:OK, Maxx, I'm going to play devil's advocate here a moment

Maxx:Shoot ;)

Kim Lyons:A lot of what you just said is familiar ... sounds like perhaps Lyft is offering talking points to drivers.

Kim Lyons:(certainly that is a smart business practice, to stay on message)

sid bream:Kim I can honestly say lyft has provided no coaching or talking points, why dont you ride around with one of us on a Friday/Sat night and see for yourself?

Kim Lyons:Sid, I am not the partier I once was, Friday and Saturday nights I'm in bed by 9 ;)

Kim Lyons:OK, maybe not that early ...

Larry:Kim have you ever attempted to take a yellow cab from Oakland to SS on a Fri-Saturday night

Kim Lyons:Larry: I have not, but I hear it can be difficult to get one.

Maxx:Not so much. I think what you're experiencing is simply the most obvious explanation - from all the drivers I've talked to it's a pretty common (I'll stop short of saying 'univeral') feeling

Kim Lyons:Fair enough, Maxx.

Larry:I'll start with the number 1 question on my mind, is this who ordeal merely Government Red Tape backed by Yellow Cab and their history of political contributions

Larry:Difficult might get you the Gold in the understatement Olympics

Kim Lyons:Ha, thanks Larry, I aim high

Kim Lyons:Looks like we may have two Larrys in the house... maybe last initials would be helpful

Lindsay:One of the reasons why I welcomed Uber and Lyft to Pittsburgh is an alternative to drinking and driving. I'd like to see more conversation about what makes Pittsburgh safer. And I wish there was more discussion of reducing/eliminating drinking and driving.

Kim Lyons:Lindsay this is something I would like to explore further in future stories: could we see a correlation between the arrival of Lyft/Uber in Pittsburgh and dui citations?

Kim Lyons:It sounds plausible, but I haven't really delved into the data yet.

Forex:It's a great part-time job with flexible hours, and keeping drunks off the road. Win-win all around.

Kim Lyons:(PSA: Don't drink and drive, kids)

Sean:I have had passengers tell me that they have been mistreated by the cab industry in PGH and I feel we are providing them with a safe way home from the bar.

Kim Lyons:I really wish we could get some Yellow Cab drivers in here, because I don't want this to be a bash-fest. I have heard from some of them that the airport trips are one of the few ways they make decent money.

Forex:If the word "airport" isn't anywhere in the trip request, Yellow Cab has a tendency to ignore the fare.

Maxx:And, further, we're supposed to send all press questions to lyft corporate. That's pretty much the only 'talking point' so to speak.

Sean:And Kim if you like I have a ton of stories i can share with you from passengers

Lindsay:Kim - would you be willing to do an article where you try to take a cab around Pittsburgh? Try to get a cab to the airport and try to take a cab to the baseball game.

Kim Lyons:I would, sure, Lindsay. On my to-do list.

Kim Lyons:I would also like to venture into Philadelphia, where they've had Uber for a while, and see how taxi/ride shares coexist there

Allison:I have driven for yellow cab and ride-share services if anyone has questions about the differences or similarities between the two ( keeping in mind I am not a spokesperson for any company)

Larry A:The keeping the drunks off the road is all well in good, but I believe the service both companies provides is much greater than limiting it to that

Kim Lyons:(thanks for the last initial, Larry A)

Kim Lyons:So beyond getting intoxicated people home safely, what other purpose do these companies serve?

Allison:I have driven for yellow cab and ride_share.

Lindsay:And, I know this will involve a nap, but I'd love to see you try to get a cab home from a dinner and a drink on a Friday night.

Lindsay:Drinking and driving is one of those things that no one wants to talk about - but I think the main reason people drink and drive is that they can't get a cab

Kim Lyons:Well, I think it's a little bit of a stretch to blame Yellow Cab for drinking and driving... I mean, you have to be responsible for your own actions at a certain point, right? (Not to preach...)

Forex:If at all possible, please do the same in San Francisco, where Uber and Lyft were founded and have apparently dramatically altered the transportation landscape, where U and L are extremely dominant players.

Kim Lyons:Forex, if I can convince my editor to send me to San Francisco to do the story, I am ALL OVER IT!

Unemployed Cantor:Hi, I'm soon to be out of work and considered looking at Lyft or Uber as supplemental income. My question is, if I were driving and involved in any kind of an accident, is that on me and my insurance, or do they insure their drivers and their vehicles?

Kim Lyons:Good question, Cantor.

Kim Lyons:I am going to link to both companies' policies re: insurance but I have a feeling our fellow chat room participants will chime in too

sid bream:Kim I feel bad for the yellow cab drivers, and would love to hear their comments, they are just another part of a broken transportation system.

James_Pittsburgh:Kim, how often are Yellow Cabs inspected? Once a year? I would hardly call that any better than someone's personal car which is inspected once a year.

Kim Lyons:another good question, James. I'll look for the answer on the PUC website, because I'm not positive.

Sean:i have taken many people to and from work. Also, i would love to see lyft expand into the senior citz. transportation industry

Kim Lyons:Sean you raise a good point

Kim Lyons:senior citizens aren't as likely to have smartphones, and there's no way to "call" for Lyft or Uber

Kim Lyons:So does that exclude a significant portion of the population in Pittsburgh (and, those who might be most in need of a ride?)

Larry A:Moving people around the City, not having to worry about parking tickets, paying lot fees around the stadiums, flexibility, college students who do not have cars, taking the bus and then getting caught in the rain

Lindsay:Yellow cab has not met the demand of people who would prefer not to drive

Forex:Seriously, San Fran is a MAJOR ride sharing community...It could provide some significant insight into this topic.

Maxx:Well, I just took Lyft this morning. I dropped my car off at the mechanic and had planned to take the bus to work (an hour and a half ride)... but the mechanic didn't open in time. When they did I called work to let them know I'd be there in 30, walked out of the garage and popped Lyft open. Someone was there in 5 minutes and I was fine getting to work.. That's a huge use for it that I guarantee wouldn't have happened with Yellow Cab. Prior to Lyft I had a Veteran's cab driver saved in my phone because I knew I could rely on him to at least *show up*... but for on the spot stuff like this it wouldn't have worked because he was probably at home sleeping.

Larry A:No I don't think so Kim, if a group of my friends is going out in Regent Square and I am in SS before Uber, how was I supposed to get there instead of driving? Call yellow cab and have them tell me my expected waited is 20 minutes to - 2 hours?

Larry A:Sid don't you think they contribute by, for example, refusing to accept credit cards?

Katy:Hi! Not much of a question, just a comment from a very frustrated young professional who relies on taxis and busses: PUC needs to realize that it's unethical of them to fine alternative services. The transportation in this city is despicable, they should be excited that outside services are picking up their slack since the city clearly doesn't have enough money or support to provide better service. Lyft drivers are more friendly than any cab driver I've ever met.

Kim Lyons:Katy, that's a good point also... why can't taxis and ride share companies coexist? It seems like there is plenty of demand for both

Guest:Right now - insurance is such a touchy subject. Some people have been dropped by their companies because they found out that they were driving. Most people don't inform their company

Lindsay:It is my understanding that the Lyft and Uber has led to an INCREASE in cab ridership in SF. Here is another article on how it can benefit cab drivers

Sean:That's why i would like to see lyft step in. But the PUC acting like they've been makes that difficult

Forex:I would lie to hear from YC respond to repeated reports of leaving would-be passengers stranded by not being picked up.

Lindsay:Sean - 100% agree. Ridesharing could be an awesome way to help people who have stopped driving due to age.

James_Pittsburgh:Kim, the senior citizens of tomorrow may have smartphones. So it is something to consider moving forward.

Kim Lyons:Fair point, James. Although my dad still has a flip phone that baffles him. He calls me whenever he sends a text :)

Unemployed Cantor:Also, I was in Austin TX recently to visit my pal Rick P. and the Yellow Cab there had an excellent free mobile app that worked very well. Is that in the offing here or is the local Yellow Cab still using a Tampa-based Tandy 1000 for dispatch?

Kim Lyons:Cantor... you seem to have a lot more... knowledge on this topic than the average reader

Kim Lyons:Email me and I'll find out the answer for you once we wrap the chat.

Kim Lyons:klyons @

Guest:Jumping in the convo. Isn't UBER a smartphone based taxi service?

Kim Lyons:Oh Guest.

Kim Lyons:That's like a lightning rod of a question

Kim Lyons:Here is the overview of all the ride share coverage I've done to date:

Kim Lyons:

frank s.:In my experience, between "traditional" cab services and lyft and uber, only the latter two care about customer service, and both have been more reliable, faster, and less expensive. Furthermore several drivers informed me that they were teachers supplementing their income over the summer.

Kim Lyons:I have heard from a lot of people using ride share as second source of income

Larry A:The 2-way rating model is wonderful

Kim Lyons:but look: even if Lyft and Uber pay the fines and help with court costs, if the PUC seeks to have your license plates revoked (as I reported yesterday) what can they do for you?

Lindsay:Kim - you've written tons - but I think the comments on these stories are most telling - especially re: customer service

Kim Lyons:boy those comments yesterday were... feisty, Lindsay.

Troy:Maybe we're missing the big picture here. Was the taxi service really meant for instant pickups? Or were they designed originally for scheduled pickups? I believe that Lyft/Uber are filling a void that taxi's didn't intent to fill to begin with. Am i off base with this?

Kim Lyons:Troy, I don't think you are.

Kim Lyons:The PUC maintains that it has safety and inspection standards that it can't be sure Lyft and Uber are following

Kim Lyons:But Lyft and Uber say they do background checks and vehicle inspections

James_Pittsburgh:I understand requiring Uber and Lyft to be further regulated, but if the city wants to require drivers to get a license like a taxi driver that is ridiculous. Stop making it harder for people who want to work and earn a living.

Sean:what larry a said!!!

Larry A:Lol

Maxx:Yeah, I agree about comments. I had no idea how bad transportation in this city was until I became a Lyft driver and started hearing stories from all my passengers who (the first couple weeks) would get into the car and the first thing they'd say was, "omigod you showed up!"

Kim Lyons:Well I grew up in a city where I would take cabs all the time, I would hail them on the street. But that's not really a "thing" in Pittsburgh

Amy:Here's an example of something that needs to change vis a vis the PUC: My understanding is that in industries regulated by the PUC, companies that are currently in the market can prevent other companies from entering IF they can show that the new company would hurt the existing companies' business. This happened to a moving company owner I know who was forced to buy a license from an existing company because she couldn't get her own. This is the type of ridonkulous (new word) rule that I think we should get rid of (if this is, in fact, how it works.) The other stuff- insurance, inspections, etc. need to stay, I think.

Kim Lyons:OK as promised, here is Lyft's policy re: insurance

Kim Lyons:and here is Uber's

Maxx:Kim, I personally know of people (a friend included) who got rejected by Lyft's background and driving investigations

Will R:Has the PUC examined other transportation options like ZipCar with as critical an eye?

Kim Lyons:excellent question, Will. My understanding and I will double check this, is that ZipCar is treated as a car rental service, not a ride share service akin to a taxi

Manky:I ride in friends and acquaintances cars more often than I use commercial services. Guess I should be running safety checks on their vehicles, checking their insurance, and doing background checks on their persons every time, or I'm endangering myself.

frank s.:Right, my point being that, these are not sketchy unlicensed cabs, many are competent people entrusted with the care of children. The entire thing just seems corrupt. They are supposedly independently insured also. Yellow cab and and classy cab need to deal with the fact that they have been not only undercut price-wise, but also by a superior service.

Sean:And any passengers out there that might be afraid to ride you ARE covered when you are in a lyft vehicle as long as you booked the lyft using the app

Sean:$1M on your person

Sean:I would love to have yellow cab drivers in here so they can defend themselves

Kim Lyons:All right time for a poll

Kim Lyons:you guys are all agreeing with each other too much

Kim Lyons:;)

Eliza:Will R., I think the issue ZipCar manages to avoid is transporting passengers; it's simply a car-sharing service as opposed to a ride-share where an individual is being driven/transported by another individual, similar to a cab service.

Maxx:I don't think it's the yellow cab drivers personally. It's the company. A foreign company mind you.

Larry A:The one driver defending himself on your story Kim was so off-based it made me cringe

Kim Lyons:which one, Larry A?


Kim Lyons:Bullied... how do you mean, Sean? Lyft and Uber are hardly without resources to defend themselves

Larry A:The one who said Uber/Lyft handles several dozen rides a day while Yellow Cab does 1000s

Manky:We're all agreeing with each other too much because Yellow Cab managers, drivers and passengers don't have the World Wide Intertubes.

James_Pittsburgh:Kim, how about the real story, "The Face that this is really about the PUC protecting Yellow Cab" and its political allies and not about Uber and Lyft."

Kim Lyons:well I don't know about that James, but here is some food for thought

Kim Lyons:I am going to link to the applications before the PUC from Lyft and from Uber... and you can see the list of people and groups protesting against them.

Kim Lyons:Yellow Cab is not on the list, at least not last I checked.

Kim Lyons:

Kim Lyons:

Allison:One of the best things about lyft for passengers is that I cant pick and choose where I pick up. I take the closest call

Lindsay:I would gladly take a cab, and I would even pay more for a cab, but the cabs don't show up. It's not even a price issue. Has anyone asked Yellow Cab to respond to the 100's of stories about not showing up.

Larry A:Amen James

Jon:So as someone from outside the city who, like many, have had less than reliable experiences with calling for a Yellow Cab while in Pittsburgh; which do the people here prefer? Uber of Lyft? Can both sustain in a "smaller" market?

Larry A:Kim have you ever talked with those running Uber/Lyft in the City?

Kim Lyons:Larry A, I have.

Maxx:Out of curiousity (I've not had the time to read all 3 applications) - what is different about the YellowcabX application that has prevented these groups from protesting their application? Have those groups been talked too and asked that?

Kim Lyons:We will presumably hear from them at the upcoming hearing (once they've been scheduled)

Julie:What's the latest w/ YC's foray into this market? Is that now off the table?

Kim Lyons:No, Julie, I believe it is still on track, but have not heard a launch date for Yellow X yet

Mary_ South Side:I am one of those seniors that does not own a smart phone. I am a virtual shut-in except for dr appts. I walk to the bus stop (about 8 blocks) and walk from the "off" stop to my dr's office. I call a cab to go home because the walk back from the bus stop to my house is more than I can handle. I would love to get out more, but it is my understanding that you can't get a cab for "really" short distances (like from E Carson St to my house, which is about 8 blocks). I could really use the services of UBER or LYFT - again no smartphone! I will add that I have had good service with YC and their drivers, except for the wait time (only twice)and they can get a little pricey (on a seniors budget) during peak times.

Larry A:Not given a boring "statement"

frank s.:I can see this being a political issue, younger people don't vote in local elections or even statewide elecetions during non presidential elections, and I am in my 20's and would absolutely vote on this issue alone haha

Kim Lyons:That is interesting, Frank... Mayor Peduto said earlier today on the radio he is still trying to work with the PUC chairman on this issue

Kim Lyons:Ok so 71 percent of you say "yes" to the poll Q

Maxx:At the hearing though I presume that "why didn't you protest YellowcabX?" won't be permitted, since it has nothing to do with the applications in question. I'm just wondering to see if these groups are tied to Yellowcab, and if not, to actually hear a reasonable answer or did these self-proclaimed watchdogs just drop the ball?

Kim Lyons:I'll ask them. It's a reasonable question.

Kim Lyons:but I think this comes down to the insurance policies... what YC has in place already vs. the insurance that Lyft and Uber offer

Kim Lyons:that's theorizing, but it seems to me to be the one difference

Kim Lyons:

Kim Lyons:that's Yellow X's application to the PUC

Maxx:Yeah - but will that apply to their citizen drivers in personal cars? And if so, how is it any different than Lyft's which does the same?

Kim Lyons::::taking notes:::

frank s.:That is good to hear Kim. I don't see it as a a problem, they have all relevant information on their website, buyer beware, and the market will speak for itself

Maxx:And also if so - what company is approved to provide this so Lyft and Uber can talk with them lol

Pam:Sorry, I am late to the chat. Yellow Cab is poorly managed. They have no control over the drivers. YC drivers are jitney' s with a permit to drive. They take calls on their cell phones, do runs off the meters and do not turn in the amount of money they are really making. As an senior resident I say yay for more competitive cabs to give txt a run for their money. I have had literally waited 3-4 hours for a yellow cab, called & cancelled the cab, then the cab shows up and I refued the cab by the automated system, to have the cabbie stand out side to cuss me out. I reported long waits and no shows, PUC did nothing.

Kim Lyons:that sounds unfortunate, Pam.

Sean:Kim i hear this on a daily basis from my PAX

Julie:Kim, have you gotten any feedback from YC Drivers re: YCX? Every YC driver I've spoken to has villified Uber/Lyft. Now YC is getting into the same business, so to speak.

Kim Lyons:I have had a very hard time getting any drivers to talk to me on the record lately

Guest:Has the Post Gazette been given any money to continuously promote lyft and uber?

Kim Lyons:not to my knowledge, Guest.

Kim Lyons:I don't see covering a news story with this level of interest as "promotion"

HelloKittyLyft:There is enough room in this city for YC, Uber, and Lyft to operate. I for one, as a Lyft driver, would be happy to give up airport runs and leave the totally for YC. That's all they want to do anyway!

sloov:First ever fines for these companies in the US (right here in the nation's capital for poor cab service) is national news right now. Obviously lots of people need these services. Pam and Mary as far as I know they will offer a way to request cabs without a smartphone but you do need one now. I don't have one either (and don't own a car) so I can't use them. It'll be good for business for them to offer by phone/desktop. Then hopefully they'll finally run Yellow Cab to the ground where it belong

Guest:Its free adverising. Id rather hear about the food truck situation in Pgh.

Kim Lyons:with due respect, Guest, you're not the only reader of the Post-Gazette. We appreciate your input, and I do strive to keep the articles on this topic balanced.

Kim Lyons:If you can find specific examples that show otherwise, I'd be happy to discuss with you

Kim Lyons:email me at

sloov:I want the PG to keep covering this. Our crappy transportation issues are one thing keeping the city from becoming as great as it could be

Will R:Why is it that Uber and Lyft haven't run into this kind of opposition in other communities? Or have they and I just didn't hear about it?

Kim Lyons:Oh they have, Will, in fact in Virginia, the state issued a cease-and-desist order

Kim Lyons:and the situation in Europe right now...

Kim Lyons:

Kim Lyons:major protests in London, Paris, Madrid

Kim Lyons:against Uber

Amy:Hey, drivers, I'm curious - how profitable is driving for Uber or Lyft? (Considering you have to pay for gas, consider wear and tear, etc.)

HelloKittyLyft:I did give a lyft to a 92 year old man (one of my best pax ever!). His younger friend requested a lyft for him.

Julie:@ Hello Kity - that's super nice of you, but this is starting to sound like a gang war, dividing up turf. I think Uber and Lyft should operate everywheredoes.

Larry A:Same resistance in Seattle, where regulations were passed capping the number of drivers if I am not mistaken

Kim Lyons:Ok, everyone, we are nearing the end of our hour

Kim Lyons:Please keep commenting, weighing in and let us know what angles you think we are missing

Kim Lyons:I hope this has been helpful/useful. I have found it to be so.

sid bream:Good talk see ya out there

Kim Lyons:thanks, Sid, and thanks for reading and participating today.

Kim Lyons:If you have any other q's for me, you can reach me via email

Eliza:Thanks Kim for your continued coverage on this important issue for our city!

Kim Lyons:I am on Twitter also: @socialkimly

Kim Lyons:Thanks all.

Sean:what eliza said. also kim could you please post on twitter every time you write a new story

Kim Lyons:I have and will continue to, Sean. Thanks!

Kim Lyons:Have a great day everyone.


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