Why Lyft Works So Well

Disclosure: I Love Lyft.

Daniel J. Conway
Jan 22, 2014 · 4 min read

I have wanted to write for awhile now. I have been thinking about it for years. More recently, I have been thinking about it for months, days, hours and many minutes. I have no reason I haven’t done it yet. That is to say, I have no one reason I haven’t done it yet. There are many. Some I can identify and others I just know are there, but not sure what to call them or how to categorize them.

Most of them are things that lead to fear or stem from the fear itself. Inexperience, judgement, lack of words, the wrong words, laziness, ‘nothing’ to write about, too much to write about, not knowing where to start, how would I end it once I started? All stupid. I found something simple to write about, just something I wanted to share. It felt like a good starting point, enough to bypass these little fear speed bumps. It is my understanding of ‘Why Lyft Works So Well’.


The other night I found myself in a Lyft ride once again. A usual occurrence for a Saturday night. And for this particular weekend, for a Friday night, Sunday morning, afternoon & night, and Monday morning. Really, too many Lyfts it seems. ($100+ that I don’t particularly have) But then I realized it wasn’t too many.

As I said, in another Lyft, on another Saturday night. Typical. I was running a few minutes behind, also typical. Getting in I immediately began my standard apologies in hopes of saving my ratings. I thought without Lyft I would be left to Uber, Sidecar or worse: cabs. Another fear I had: that one day my minutes late would add up and I would be shunned from the Lyft community altogether. Too many low ratings, too many bothered drivers. So I jumped in and began with the sorries.

The driver turned to me and handed me a pen and a pad. (Surely I was going to be forced to write “I will not show up to my Lyft ride late” one hundred times over) Instead he says, “I am deaf, please write where you are headed.” He points to the bucket of candy, gum and water, “Help yourself to anything.” And then to the radio, “Feel free to turn on what you would like.” I thought about it for a minute. I am pretty new to San Francisco (7 months now) and I don’t know many radio stations. (Who does these days?)

Next I considered Pandora.

‘Would it be awkward if I turned on Pandora on my phone?’

No, I don’t want to do that.

‘Well, what do I normally do in Lyft rides?’

I guess I talk to every driver, every time.

‘Man, I wish I could talk to him.’

We sat in silence nearly the entire ride. (about 15-20 minutes)He turned on the light occasionally to read my lips, I asked for the paper pad back to write a few things, but mostly silence. I enjoyed every minute of it. I even enjoyed a piece of gum, which was not my typical Lyft move. I realized this is why it wasn’t too many Lyfts for my weekend, and really why Lyft works so damn well.

Lyft has a beautiful, fun app with its moving cars, smiling balloons and friendly interface. The mustaches just have to make you smile every time you see them drive down the road. Its tough to finder a cheaper ride anywhere in the city. (Uber claims they are now 16% cheaper. It doesn’t matter now. And I don’t buy it.)

But, its not the app, the smiling balloons, or fuzzy mustaches. Its actually everything else they’ve created. Its the friendly people, always cheerful, always willing to talk. Its the sense that I know my neighbors and I am helping these people earn a living doing something they enjoy. I now pay Lyft for the experience, not for the rides. The rides are nice, but rides are a commodity these days. The experience is irreplaceable.

In this weekend alone I rode with: a 70 year old man who had once been a rancher, ran a helicopter services business (Catalina Wine Mixer anyone?), leased vespas in Colorado, brokered Yachts on the Peninsula, represented himself in court against the FDIC (and effectively won), and now was a Lyft driver; the funniest Dave Chapelle look alike one could hope to get as a Lyft driver — humor included; a deaf man, who shared the story of his softball game earlier that night and provided the same incredible experience as the others with fewer words.


Lyft is in the business of providing wonderful and unique experiences, from people in your own community. Not only do I love Lyft, but I love the sharing economy. I love the fact that ‘nine to five’ is dying and being replaced by ‘when I want’. Lyft has built an incredible business that facilitates the sharing of experiences between real people. They are leveraging the sharing economy to bring back local and reconnect us with the people around us.

The internet did this incredible thing where it made the world smaller, much smaller. We could now connect with people thousands of miles away, but our time remained finite. A day was still 24 hours and we still had to choose how to fill it. Because of this we made friends all over the world, but became distanced with the people and the communities just outside our front door. The way I see it, companies like Lyft are using the sharing economy to reverse all of this, bringing us closer to our communities and really closer to those who are closest to us. Which is why Lyft works so well.

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