Lyft Expands Pittsburgh Coverage Area

Lyft

Lyft (Photo credit: Spiros Vathis)

Almost two months ago – I wrote a blog post about how the car service with the pink mustaches is launching in Pittsburgh.  It looks like Pittsburgh has embraced this transportation alternative.

I was actually in the middle of writing a post about how Lyft is another transportation option to get from the city to the airport.  Until today the Lyft drivers would only pick up in the city coverage area.  But, that just changed with the announcement that Lyft has expanded their coverage area in Pittsburgh.

Lyft Coverage Area Now Includes the Pittsburgh Airport

Lyft has expanded the pick up area in Pittsburgh to include the Pittsburgh airport.  So a Lyft driver can now pick up a passenger anywhere in the city and west to the Airport.  Lyft drivers are authorized to drive passengers upto 60 miles from the pick up spot (Lyft Driver FAQ).

lyft pittsburgh

 

I used Lyft twice last month to get to the Pittsburgh airport.  A ride from the east end cost about $50.  Drivers will drop you right at the airport.

Pittsburgh Lyft – Available 24 Hours a Day

Additionally – Lyft now operates 24 hours a day in the city of Pittsburgh.  The hours in February we only 7am to 1am and 7am to 3am on Friday and Saturdays.

Tips for Using Lyft

I found this blog post – 10 Things Lyft Drivers Should Tell Passengers by Lyft driver Greg Muender to be a helpful read before my first ride.

If you would like to try Lyft – click here to get a free first ride on Lyft.

Have you used Lyft or Uber in Pittsburgh yet? What do you think?

I have only used Lyft thus far, and I know several people who drive for Uber.  Yes, there are some risks in this model of peer-to-peer ride sharing. Overall, I think that having alternatives to drinking and driving in Pittsburgh is an important step for safety of all residents of Pittsburgh. It would be great to have more taxi cabs on the street and accessible.

Have you used these services yet?  What are your thoughts?

(Thanks to Lyft driver and Muffin Maker Get Mo Muffins for the heads up on the expanded coverage area)

Lyft Launches in Pittsburgh: Can a Pink Mustache Solve Our Cab Problem?

LYFT (Photo credit: Tribute/ Homenaje)

LYFT (Photo credit: Tribute/ Homenaje)

UPDATE March 2014: If you are interested in trying Lyft – click here to get $25 in ride credit.  If you are interested in becoming a driver for Lyft – click here to apply

I think that one of the things that keeps Pittsburgh from being competitive with other cities is transit.  Both transit to and from the city and transit within the city limits.

Can New Apps/Services Address the Cab Problem in Pittsburgh?

If you go to most major US cities – you can hail a cab.  It is no secret that, unless you are standing at a downtown hotel, it is near impossible to get a cab in this city.

The lack of access to cabs causes all kinds of problems and puts more cars on the streets, more cars mean we need more parking.  More parking means we need more parking garages.  The lack of access to cabs also leads to more drinking and driving.

There are three startup companies that have been working on the cab situation in other cities  – Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.  We’ve heard rumors that Uber has been looking at Pittsburgh for a while and we know they have just hired a Pittsburgh representative.  (There is also a local startup CabbyGo but I haven’t learned much about them).

Lyft is launching in Pittsburgh tomorrow (Friday, February 7) – and I think this is a big deal for this town.  Lyft is a community ride service and the Lyft cars are identified by pink mustaches.

Image representing Lyft as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

What is Lyft?  

From the Lyft website:

Lyft is like having a friend with a car whenever you need one. Simply download the app, request a Lyft and you’ll be on your way in minutes with a friendly, background-checked community driver. It’s more fun and costs less than a cab.

Lyft is more than just an alternative to a cab, they seem to be building an extensive community of riders and drivers.  Check out the intro to Lyft video here for more details on the service and the community aspect.

So, your excited about riding in cars with strangers?  Is that safe? 

I will be the first to admit that I was very skeptical of the idea of riding in a strangers car or driving other people in my car.  But I think the Lyft service is worth a look and from everything I’ve read – I think it is pretty safe.  All of the drivers have passed a background check and are interviewed by the Lyft staff.

I’ve heard great thing about Lyft and I wanted to learn more.  I downloaded the app and applied to be a driver.  Watching the driver education videos really changed my opinion of the service.  Even if you don’t want to become a driver, I would recommend that you download the app and start the application.  The first step of applying is to watch three videos about the service.  I’ve tried to find those videos online but apparently they are only available in the driver application.

Help Lyft Launch in Pittsburgh – Get Free Rides for Two Weeks

To help kick off Lyft’s service in Pittsburgh – you can become a Lyft Pioneer and your rides for the next two weeks are free.  You can get the details on becoming a Lyft Pioneer in Pittsburgh on this post I wrote for the c-leveled blog.

You can follow Lyft on Twitter @Lyft and use the #LyftOffPittsburgh to share your Lyft experiences.

Get on Board with Port Authority’s ConnectCard

These ConenctCard machines can be found at all T Stations and at the major stops along the East and West Busways. Use them to add passes or value to your card.

These ConenctCard machines can be found at all T Stations and at the major stops along the East and West Busways. Use them to add passes or value to your card.

Port Authority of Allegheny County has begun its transition of using ConnectCards for 10-trip, weekly, monthly, and yearly passes, as well as stored value. As a college student, intern, and part-time captive to the restaurant service industry, I have become a frequent user of public transportation here in Pittsburgh. And while I definitely find the ConnectCard to have its share of hiccups, it is definitely a step in the right direction. Whether you use the bus daily or once in a blue moon, I recommend picking one up.

Clueless on how to get started? Here are the basics of the ConnectCard:

What is it?
A blue, plastic, reloadable card which you can purchase and store your transit passes and store value on.

Where do I get one?
You can get one at the Port Authority Service Center downtown (534 Smithfield Street from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or at any of these Giant Eagle locations.

How do I use it?
When getting on or off the bus, T, or incline, tap your ConnectCard on the orange target on the farebox. A beep will signal that your pass has been accepted. The farebox will read your remaining balance if you are using stored value.

How do I another pass or store more value on it?
You can go to any ConnectCard machine, located at all T Stations and major stops along the East and West Busways. You can also go to the Service Center or any of the previously-mentioned Giant Eagles. All you need to do is tap your ConnectCard on the orange target (similar to the ones on the fareboxes) on the machine, select the type of pass or value using the touch screen, and pay using cash or credit/debit.

What if I lose or damage it?
Approximately 48 hours after you first purchase your ConnectCard, call Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000. You can register your card so that if anything were to happen to it, you will still have your passes and value on a replacement card. Unfortunately, Port Authority hasn’t made registering for this service online or electronically, however a customer service representative said that it will be in place in the future.

The Beginner’s Guide to Port Authority: Using the Bus

Whether you are someone who just moved to the ‘Burgh, a first year student at one of the city’s colleges or universities, just visiting for a day, or your car broke down and the bus is your last resort, here are a couple of things to know to handle your Port Authority of Allegheny County experience like a pro.

The Bus Stop and Boarding

A typical bus stop sign in Allegheny County.

A typical bus stop sign in Allegheny County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To makes sure you are at the right stop, each stop can be identified by the blue sign that says “Bus Stop”. Under most of these signs, there is a list of the bus routes that  belong to that stop. Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and let all of the passengers that are exiting off first. Need to know what bus to take? Use Port Authority’s Trip Planner to find buses and times.

Cost

One way fare within Zone-One is $2.50 and Zone-Two is $3.75. Need a transfer? Just let the bus driver know before you pay, it’s only a dollar more. Make sure you have exact change, too. The bus drivers and fare-boxes do not give change. If you are paying with bills, check that they are as flat as possible. A crumpled dollar bill can jam the fare box and also makes for a grumpy bus driver.

Don’t forget, service within Pittsburgh’s Gold Triangle (Downtown Business District and the Cultural District) is free!

When to Pay

Knowing when to pay your fare is important, too! Before 7 p.m., if you are getting on a bus headed outbound, pay when getting off the bus. If you are on a bus headed in-bound, pay when getting on. After 7 p.m., always pay when boarding.

While Riding

Once you board, find yourself a seat. For some, sitting by a stranger can feel awkward, but that is part of the fun of public transit! Don’t be a seat hog either. If you have an open seat beside you, move closest to the window and make sure you do not place your belongings there so someone else can sit down. When there are no open seats, go as far back as you can on the bus and hold on to a rail. During busy hours, chances are you will be smushed with fellow passengers.

Most times at the front of the bus, an illuminated signed will read the stops as they are being approached (some older buses do not have these unfortunately). When you see your stop approaching, pull the yellow cord to signal your stop.

Exiting

After you have signaled your stop, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop. Pay your fare if the bus is headed outbound before 7 p.m. Finally, don’t forget to thank the bus driver!