New (Totally Awesome) Lyft Service in Tampa

So sometimes this blog deviates away from academia to travel.  Given I used a brand new form (to me) of transportation this trip, I figured I’d give them a shoutout.

I was in Tampa for the 2014 AAG National Conference, but my flight (through Allegiant Air) was out of St. Pete’s.  SuperShuttle wanted 56 bucks (what?? Hosers) to get me, so I started looking for other options.  My awesome partner-in-crime S. suggested Lyft, which I’d not heard of prior (I live in the sticks, y’all).

I'm seriously.

I’m seriously.

I downloaded the app and was immediately rewarded with 50 free rides in Tampa Bay.  Seriously.  50 free rides.  I asked my driver if this was going to affect his pay, and he said absolutely not.  So yeah, don’t feel guilty about using these free rides.  At all.  Why the free rides, you might ask?  Well, Lyft just opened up its market in Tampa four days ago, so they’re trying to boost business.

So anyways, back to using the service.  I of course had the typical raised-in-the-90s paranoia about strangers, but Lyft is awesome.  People sign up with their cars to give you a ride.  Drivers go through background checks and their vehicles go through safety inspections prior to being allowed into the fleet (clearly I did some research on their website).  They show up with a massive fuzzy pink mustache in their back window (their icon/symbol), and you are required to sit in the front seat and actually talk to your driver.  You pay completely thru the app (I thought the app allowed for tip, and if you can tip thru the app, I’m techno-stupid and couldn’t figure it out.  I’m so sorry, Collin!).

Say hi to Collin!

Say hi to Collin!

Speaking of Collin, my driver was awesome.  A graduate of USF, he actually got to work with Susan MacManus during the Bush/Gore election. The Susan MacManus.  In Florida. The national capital of hanging chads. Awesome.  We also talked about SEC football, family stories involving La Jolla, Calif., and the ridiculousness that is mass transit in Tampa and Atlanta.

This repartee is what sold me on Lyft.  I’m a naturally social person, so cab rides where I sit in the back seat through interminable minutes of awkward silence are just awful.  A taxi service focused on actually providing a fun ride instead of just a service is something I can totally get behind.  And the driver had a similar school background as me.  How awesome is that?

Excuse the grammar and adverbtive vomit.  I'm on a lot of DayQuil.

Excuse the grammar and adverbtive vomit. I’m on a lot of DayQuil.

Reservations are made through a smartphone app (sorry dumbphone users) and payment is made through the same app.  A receipt gets mailed to you immediately for those of you who need it for reimbursements or tax purposes.  And the fees are reasonable.  I was able to calculate my fare within a dollar before I even reserved.  When you pay, you can leave a review and vote 1-5 stars (Collin totally earned a 5).

So yeah, I wholeheartedly recommend Lyft.  Safe, clean car.  Awesome driver.  Totally convenient.  And given how G-dawful Tampa’s mass transit it, this service will be a blessing for both professionals in the city and people traveling for vacations.  Good choice, Tampa.  And thanks, Lyft.  I will definitely be using your service again.

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