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Car And Ride Share Programs Thrive In Sacramento
All three of these technology-based transportation platforms are expanding in the city to accommodate the growing demand for accessible rides. The pink mustache ride-sharing platform, Lyft launches today (Friday) at 4 p.m. After a successful six weeks of UBER’s low-cost ride-share service, UBERx, it’s offering free rides all weekend. And after two car-sharing years in Sacramento, Zipcar is expanding its fleet to include more locations and more models.
How do all these programs work? What makes them different? Who’s using all these options? Who’s giving the rides?
We drafted this handy chart breaking down the details of each service.
Eben Burgoon is a car-less Sacramentan and comic book writer living in Land Park. He signed up for Zipcar back in 2001 when it first came to Sacramento and has been using UBER since it launched here at the beginning of 2013. His girlfriend does have a car, and there’s always light rail and his bicycle: so before Zipcar, UBER and Lyft he wasn’t hurting too much. If he had to go to the Bay Area he’d take Amtrak or bum rides from friends, but he says with the advent of car-sharing he has more autonomy.
“This kind of gives me a little more self reliance and less worrying about how I’m going to get from point a-to-point-b,” Burgoon said. He said he’ll probably be downloading the Lyft app when it becomes available in Sacramento.
Lindsay Wester, a spokeswoman for Zipcar said it’s expanding its fleet in Sacramento to accommodate more locations for pick-up and drop-off, and to offer more options to the members, or Zipsters, as they are known. The expansion includes Zipcars located at H and 20th, N and 5th, and Q and 5th as well as the addition of a Mini Cooper convertible and a Mercedes Benz.
"We want to attract all kinds of zipsters with all kind of needs," Wester said. She said one member might need the Benz for a special night on the town and the next day take the convertible to the beach.
Wester said the introduction of UBER and Lyft to the market doesn’t worry the car-sharing company.
"We like to think of any kind of company or organization that really helps reduce the number of cars on the road and helps people figure out a sustainable way to get around in an urban environment - that makes us happy," Wester said.
Avis-Rent-A-Car purchased Zipcar in March of 2012. Since then the company expanded into more cities and locations at airports.
Members pay a $60 annual fee and can reserve and utilize the cars globally. Unlocking a car with their Zipcar key and paying an hourly rate or a flat day rate. Zipcar covers gas and insurance, members make sure the cars are returned clean and on time.
But if driving isn’t your thing at all, you can call a driver directly from your phone. UBER offers a way for commercially licensed driver partners to connect with people who need rides. Six weeks ago the company introduced UBERx in Sacramento. It’s a low-cost version of the ride-connect model. UBERx drivers are private individuals, driving their own vehicles. All the drivers must pass a rigorous background check before receiving UBER job notification texts.
Andrew Noyes, a spokesman with UBER said the service is really catering to people wanting an easy, stylish mode of transportation.
“There are lots of young people who like to get from point A to point B affordable and stylishly,” Noyes said. “We think that Sacramento is a strong market for UberX and we’re really excited to be there.”
So excited in fact they’re giving away free UBERx rides all weekend long. Just use the code SACLOVESuberX from Friday afternoon to the end of Sunday.
Barbara Gallo is an UBERx driver mobile notary. Since she’s on the road all the time anyway she decided it made sense to drive for UBER.
“I got my phone, got my instructions, finished the interview process and immediately got a call,” Gallo said. She said she loves that the whole process happens over the phone.
“We don’t have to touch money, and that is the single most elegant beat of this business,” Gallo said. Everything is instantaneous, every week I go to my bank and there’s money in my account.”
Gallo said she spent last Friday and Saturday picking up inebriated people and getting them home safely. UBER drivers are rated on a star system, but the drivers rate the users too. Gallo said she all her riders were completely cordial and conscientious and she gave them all five stars and kudos for making the choice not to drive.
“Mothers Against Drunk Driving should be jumping for joy about UBER,” Gallo said. “I’m a cynic from New York, I’m pleasantly surprised.”
Brian Collins is an app marketing expert with Appency and avid UBER user. Collins travels a lot for his work and between Zipcar and UBER he’s covered in most cities he visits. He said UBERs business model and marketing tactics are working, it’s one of the fastest growing companies in the nation.
He said one of the reasons companies like Lyft and UBER are taking off is that they understand the mobile space.
“UBER and Lyft have done so well on the mobile environment because they know what it is to be an app on a phone,” Collins said. When someone pulls something up on their phone it’s because they want it now, and UBER gives them what they want when they need it.
Lyft isn’t necessarily going after the same market as UBER. Prices are cheaper and based on a suggested donation. Riders sit in the front seat and greet the driver with a fist bump and Lyft cars are identified by a large pink moustache attached to the front.
Erin Simpson is a spokesperson for Lyft and said it’s trying to really build a car-sharing community.
“We call Lyft your friend with a car, and that really speaks to the experience of using the service,” Simpson said. “Our goal is to provide a safe, friendly affordable and reliable way to get around.”
“Safe” is key, Simpson said. From the beginning safety has always been a top priority and the background checks Lyft requires its drivers are more stringent than those required by the State of California.
Simpson said many Lyft drivers are musicians, freelancers and other creative professionals with flexible schedules. The drivers use the personal connection with riders to network and she said many have found work through Lyft.
Gallo said she’s going through the process of becoming a Lyft driver as well, and she’ll fold up her pink moustache and put it away when she picks up an UBER rider.
Why Sacramento? Why Now?
Simpson said making Sacramento Lyft’s 18th city made sense for a number of reasons.
“Sacramento is a car culture,” Simpson said. She pointed out there’s a growing population of people who don’t want to depend on cars, but instead opt for a combination solution of bikes, public transit and ride-share.
“All these options together make it so you don’t always have to use your car or own a car and people who do own a car can cover the costs,” Simpson said.
Collins echoed this sentiment; he said there’s been a cultural shift in Sacramento in recent years. More and more young people are moving closer to work and play, there’s a thriving night life and people are being more sensitive to their environmental footprint.
“We’re a small, centrally located city, we have an airport, we have a lot of finance and government options, and we’re very walk-able,” Collins cited reasons why transportation alternatives make sense here. “I know I could walk from Temple Coffee to my house, or I can pay ten bucks to have someone drive me over there.”
Wester from Zipcar said Sacramento’s been a great market for them for similar reason.
"Sacramento is a really great example of our inside out approach,” Wester said. Zipcar started on the campuses of University of California Davis and Sacramento State University. “The strong utilization on those specific campuses really made it possible for Zipcar to expand within Sacramento.”
Noyse, with UBER, said, “Sacramento, from a cultural standpoint, is really experiencing a renaissance. There’s a lot more to see and do now, the art scene, the night life – it’s a vibrant city and maybe hadn’t had that in years past.”
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