Opinion Web Exclusive

Ride-sharing program promises to give commuters a much needed Lyft


Francis Emelogu//The Daily Cougar

Lyft is a ride-sharing program that hires regular citizens who own a vehicle model year 2000 or newer. The drivers are not required to possess any sort of driver’s license other than a normal Class C.

“One of my main concerns is the safety of the program,” said psychology junior Lydia Rockson. “If these are normal civilians with no special permits or licenses, how (do) I know that my driver is not a crazy person?”

Lyft drivers must meet several requirements.

The applicant driver’s record will be checked for valid auto insurance, making sure the applicant has no more than two moving violations in the past three years, none of which can be major moving violations, such as driving with a suspended license or speeding more than 21 miles per hour faster than the listed limit of a particular area. The applicant will also have to undergo a background check that will check for any felonies, violent crimes, sexual offenses, theft or property damages.

Another great aspect of the program is that if a driver and passenger are involved in an accident, Lyft has a $1 million insurance policy that will cover damages to third parties. This coverage is in addition to the driver’s primary insurance policy.

“One of my main concerns about Lyft that I have is that it may saturate the taxi business,” said local Houstonian Judy Penson, 62.

This is a concern of many Houston taxi drivers. Houston taxi drivers attended a city council meeting Feb. 25 to protest the ride-sharing industry’s attempts to operate in their city. Like Penson, many taxi drivers fear that their businesses would be affected by the new ride-sharing program.

With Lyft in the city, it may only be a bit more competition for taxi drivers. Some individuals may not ride with Lyft due to their discomfort with ridesharing.

“I don’t think I would ever take a Lyft, because I don’t feel comfortable getting into the car with a complete stranger,” said senior citizen Sandra Glynn, 55. “At least if I take a cab, I would recognize the yellow vehicle that they would arrive in.”

Some individuals, like Glynn, would always stick with a taxi service because it is what they are used to. A Lyft representative told The Daily Cougar that Lyft does not target a certain group of people, but the company has noticed that many people who use Lyft are college students or other youths.

This may be because Lyft is solely an app-based company. In order to get a Lyft, someone must use the Lyft app on an Android or iPhone. Lyft accepts payments only by credit card, and tips can be included if the passenger would like to leave them. It is possible that more Lyft customers are young because older individuals may not know how to work the Lyft app.

“I honestly do not believe that our company would be affected by Lyft,” said Autumn White, the office director at Ace Limousine.

White said her clients do not request Ace’s services only because of the ride. She said it’s the overall experience that her clients are looking for. It’s knowing exactly who is going to be picking them up. Furthermore, she said many of her clients like Ace’s vehicles, whether it’s a simple Lincoln Town Car Sedan or an Escalade SUV.

With Lyft, a customer is automatically assigned to a driver and car — without a list to choose from.

I do believe Lyft will bring more competition for the taxi industry. I also understand Lyft may not be some people’s cup of tea, although I believe Lyft would be good for Houston.

Lyft would bring more jobs to the city, and a little competition never hurts. Without competition, it would be difficult to actually rate someone’s services. With Lyft seeming to be indirectly targeted toward youth, I also believe it would reduce the amount of drinking and driving among young people such as college students and young business professionals. Because Lyft may be cheaper than taking a cab, many people may find it even more accessible.

Once Lyft is up-and-running and more drivers work for it, the wait time for a Lyft would be much shorter. The Lyft representative said the idea is for everyone who requests a lift to be within five minutes’ distance of a Lyft driver.

Like many college students whom I have spoken with and as a limousine driver myself, I believe Lyft would be a great asset to the Houston community as well to its transit system. For the city to be so big, we are a bit behind other leading cities when it comes to transit, but this would definitely put us a step closer to having one of the best transit systems in America.

Opinion columnist Derail Texada is a broadcast journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]


  • This is illegal in the city of Houston. The Drivers personal insurance is voided by this activity under Texas law. The writer was was irresponsible to print this.

  • Agree with Steve. This article does not hit on the major issue with Lyft (and uberX) – insurance loopholes.

    Lyft has yet to release its insurance policy to the public, but from what I gather from their website I can make an important insight with confidence – Lyft does not cover drivers between fares, which is really bad news for drivers. Especially because the majority of insurance providers will drop drivers using personal insurance to drive for these rideshare companies.

    So, if a Lyft driver is driving around with a big pink mustache on their car and gets in an accident looking for their next fare, they will likely be in some hot water. Lyft will likely not claim responsibility, insurance providers will not cover if the driver does not have commercial insurance, and the driver might be at risk at paying the entire bill out of their pocket. Yikes.

    Also, background checks for these companies are not done by the federal government, like taxi cabs. That means background checks might miss information across state lines.

    Food for thought.

  • I’ve used Lyft, and I think it is a great service. A guy gave me a promo code (it’s HEIGHTS25 by the way), which gave me a $25 free credit. The driver that picked us up was polite and her vehicle was clean; a step up from what you would expect from the cabbies in this city

    As for Ryan and Steve, if the service is illegal why don’t you cite some of this “Texas law?” That way the rest of us can take a look at it to make a determination for ourselves.

    On there own, your contentions seem to be highly speculative. Independent contract courier drivers do work with their vehicles all of the time with Class C credentials and state minimum coverage, and they are completely within the law to do so. Why should it be different for Lyft? Especially, when the company provides $1 million in excess liability coverage due to the fact that drivers are transporting people.

  • It’s funny to look back on this article a year later and to see where these companies such as Uber and Lyft stands in our Houston society. By this time I’m sure Steve and Ryan has realized though there are many speculations about the two companies and their insurance policy and what is illegal a lot of it was and are just here say. For the actual reality if these companies were illegal they would not be in service anymore. What you may have over-looked is that these companies are very useful in other large cities such as L.A and New York and have been in business for sometime before they branched off in Houston but it may not be the actual companies that are doing the illegal things but just the drivers. All in all i’m sure you two may understand and have done more research on the ordeal and no just going off of here say. Food for thought.

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