Friday, April 25, 2014

Lyft ride-sharing service has launched in Kansas City; free rides for the next two weeks

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 7:40 AM

New rides.
  • New rides.
Yesterday morning, as I was lying in bed, scrolling through my Facebook feed and trying to wake up for a day of work - the glare of the Internet being the new coffee - I noticed an advertisement for Uber, the San Francisco-based ride-for-hire service that is expanding across the country. "Earn up to $20/hour driving in Kansas City with uberX! Apply now and start making some serious cash!" read the ad. See, look:

uber.png
UberX is Uber's lower-cost option; Uber proper, which sends out Lincoln Town Cars and Escalades, caters to a wealthier demographic. UberX was rolled out to compete with Lyft, another mobile-based ride-sharing company that markets itself as a friendlier, more community-based alternative to Uber. (Its cars have pink mustaches on the front, the drivers give you a fist bump, etc.)

To put it simply, as things currently stand, Uber and Lyft will be battling it out across the country for the foreseeable future. (They're also wrangling with taxi companies.) At stake is the business of customers seeking the convenience of being able to summon, track and pay for transportation through a smartphone app.

I wasn't aware that Uber had launched in Kansas City, and I'm still not sure if it technically has. I got this rather vague response from Uber spokeswoman Lauren Altmin yesterday, after inquiring about a possible KC Uber launch: "For months residents across Kansas City have been opening the Uber app and asking us to come to town. We're excited about the Kansas City market and look forward to exploring opportunities in town." (The company also started an UberKC Twitter account around this time last year, tweeted for a couple of days, and hasn't updated it since.)

Lyft, though, is officially doing business in Kansas City as of 7 p.m. last night. And as part of its launch - KC was one of 24 cities in which it debuted yesterday - Lyft is offering unlimited free rides until May 8. All you have to do is download the app on your iPhone or Android, sign in with Facebook, and give them your credit card and phone numbers, and you're good to go. (Lyft drivers - apply to be one here - still get paid during this two-week offer.)

There's also a Lyft community kickoff event tonight at Snow & Co., at 5 p.m. Details here.


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