Lyft now offering rides in Dubois County

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — A ride-hailing app has come to Dubois County.

Earlier this month, Lyft added the county to its Evansville coverage area. Now, local Lyft driver Shannon Roberts of Jasper is operating a Facebook page to let people know the service is available, and he plans to hang flyers in local bars.

Roberts is one of three Lyft drivers in Dubois County. He began driving with the service in January when it opened in Evansville. He also drives with Uber in Evansville, but Uber does not cover Dubois County.

So far, Roberts said, he hasn’t given any rides to people in Dubois County. Instead, he and the other two drivers spend much of their time in Evansville.

“Right now it’s best to schedule a ride through the Facebook page,” Roberts said.

In Evansville, most people use Lyft on the weekends to get home safely from the bars, Roberts said. He’s also given people rides to and from work after they’ve lost their licenses or had their cars break down. He’s also given rides to and from area airports.

To use Lyft, you first must download the app on your smartphone. From there, you enter your name and payment information. Once that’s done, you can request, schedule and pay for rides all within the app.

It works like this: A rider requests a ride in the app, and the app sends a notification to the nearest driver. The driver then has 45 seconds to accept or deny the ride before the app moves on to the next closest driver. Once a driver accepts the ride, the rider can see the driver’s profile, letting them know who’s coming to pick them up. From there, the ride works much like a taxi, figuring the rate based on time and mileage.

Costs vary by market, so a ride in the Evansville area would cost less than a ride in Indianapolis or Chicago.

According to Lyft’s cost estimator, a ride this morning from The Herald’s office on Fourth Street in Jasper to Eastland Mall in Evansville would be between $61 and $72 in a four-seat car, a ride from The Herald office to the Ferdinand Community Center would cost between $22 and $31, and a ride from our office to Walmart in Jasper would be between $6 and $12.

In Lyft, the fares are determined by demand, so the cost is higher during rush hour and on weekends.

As far as safety goes, Roberts said riders don’t have much to worry about. When someone signs up to be a driver, Lyft runs a background check on that person. Drivers are also required to use cars that are 10 years old or less. Lyft then tracks its drivers through a rating system. After the ride, riders are asked to rate the driver on a scale of one to five. If a driver’s rating falls below 4.5, Lyft starts checking in and warning the driver that they may be kicked off the service.

“I’ve never had that happen,” Roberts said. “But I’ve heard of it happening.”

For those interested in driving for Lyft, Roberts said it’s not a bad gig. Driving for Lyft and Uber in Evansville is his main source of income. He likes it because he can make his own schedule and be his own boss.

Drivers have the freedom to accept or deny rides, as well. For example, it’s up to the driver if they want to transport animals, with the exception of service animals. Some drivers won’t take pets, but Roberts doesn’t mind.

“Personally, I have a blanket in the backseat for people with pets,” he said.

Overall, it’s unlikely a driver would decline a ride, and Roberts sees Lyft as a reliable and easy way for people to find transportation.

According to the Facebook page, two Lyft drivers were out in Dubois County this morning ready to give people a ride to work.




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