Lyft ridesharing company expands to Phoenix

This screen capture of Lyft’s launch party announcement features the company’s signature pink car mustaches.

The popular San Francisco-based ridesharing company Lyft is expanding its operations to Phoenix, according to the company.

Lyft, which launched in 2012 and has expanded to eleven cities to date, allows users to request a ride through a mobile app. Drivers, who undergo background checks, training sessions and drug tests, receive donations rather than traditional fares for transporting their users.

The Phoenix launch of Lyft was foreshadowed by Facebook advertisements calling for drivers interested in working for the new service. The advertisements, featuring Lyft’s symbolic pink, fuzzy mustache on a car, directed interested parties to a simple application.

Additionally, launch party announcements began circulating the Internet. The launch party is scheduled for Thursday at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.

“We noticed that the Phoenix region has made some really great strides in improving the public transportation environment,” said Paige Thelen, a member of Lyft’s communications team. “We think Lyft would be a really great addition to what is in place.”

Thelen said the company believes in giving customers a variety of options for transportation, including public transportation and other ridesharing options. Lyft has been in talks with the mayor’s office in Phoenix regarding the launch, she added.

Matthew Heil, a spokesman for the city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department, said he did not know of any regulations at the municipal level that could challenge Lyft’s ability to operate in the Valley. In June, Lyft and other ridesharing companies were served cease-and-desist letters from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, but the companies continued to operate.

Uber, another popular mobile app that allows users to connect with drivers, launched in the Valley late last year. An email was sent to Uber users Thursday to inform them of a new deal: “enjoy 3 FREE uberX rides up to $20 per trip!” The free rides will extend through Sept. 18.

Thelen said Lyft could be a great option for students traveling short distances, especially during the Phoenix heat. She added that Lyft is dedicated to making travel safe and affordable, which aligns with Arizona’s strict DUI laws.

Journalism junior Evelyn Saravia said Lyft could be convenient for students who need to get either between campuses or to other locations, but the service may have to compete with existing options — such as campus shuttles — for intercampus transit.

“The shuttles pretty much get the job done, and it’s free,” she said. “But the shuttle only goes from campus to campus.”

Saravia does not have a bike or a car and doesn’t use her longboard currently. She said she would probably use Lyft as a transportation option.

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Downtown Devil reporter Connor Radnovich contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This article will be updated as more information becomes available.