It was almost 11 o'clock in the morning, and I wanted a burger — actually, it was 10:54 a.m. I know because that's when I pulled out my smartphone, hit the balloon-shaped app, and grabbed a Lyft.
The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company debuted in Colorado Springs last week, opening the door for people like 24-year-old Rahkee Smith to truck strangers around for $1.60 per mile and 30 cents per minute. (This is after background checks, insurance verification and online training.)
To find her, I'd fired up a screen that showed my location and told me the nearest driver was 11 minutes away ... then 10 minutes, then nine. After I pressed "Request Lyft," the app told me it was contacting one of two drivers, before pulling up a screen that showed Smith's smiling face and a picture of her car.
"Think of your driver as a friend and hop in the front seat," said a pop-up, hip to my misanthropy.
I entered my desired location — Drifter's Hamburgers, natch — and the app began displaying Smith's location as she drove to the Indy's downtown office.
After a phone call to figure out which end of the intersection I was on, I got in her white 2012 Kia Rio and began asking a lot of questions — like how has everybody reacted, so far?
"People, they get in, they ask a lot of questions," Smith said with good humor. During our trip down Interstate 25, I learned that she drove trucks for the Army in Afghanistan. Now she's studying at Pikes Peak Community College.
Then there's Lyft, which would be subject to the same regulation cab companies are if Senate Bill 125 is approved by the Colorado House of Representatives and signed into law. In an attempt to get around similar legislation elsewhere, fees are considered "donations." (Whether this strategy can be successful is still to be determined.) My 35-minute, 10.8-mile round-trip cost me a donation of $30 — little sweat off my back, though, because new adopters are comped the first $25 of their first 50 rides for two weeks.
"I think a lot of people will start using it once they learn more about it, because it's cheaper than taxis," says Smith, who also accepted an onion-free cheeseburger and a strawberry milkshake for her trouble. "And I know it will be a good thing for [Fort Carson], because a lot of soldiers that come here are without cars."