Young professionals claim victory, call for more drivers
Lyft is available in Owensboro.
The real-time transportation network mobile ridesharing service was used for the first time in the city Thursday evening. According to the mobile device user app, at least two drivers were working in the city at times Friday morning and afternoon. Owensboro had not yet been listed as a Lyft city under the company’s website by Friday evening, however.
Chamber Young Professionals is claiming the news as a victory for the city, county and region. The group, a young adult arm of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, spearheaded a campaign earlier this month to attract the interest of ridesharing companies such as Lyft or Uber.
Ridesharing allows users to request local drivers using their smartphones. It’s much like a taxi service, except drivers often use their personal vehicles and work at their own leisure. Plus, people needing a ride can order and pay for the drive with the touch of a finger on most mobile device apps.
Uber and Lyft are the two dominant ride sharing services in the U.S., available in most major markets around the world. Both service Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green, but Lyft alone is offered in smaller Kentucky cities such as Elizabethtown and Bardstown.
Those two communities, with populations of 30,000 people or less, are significantly smaller than Owensboro, which is largely why the CYP launched a social media blast campaign on Nov. 2 to attract the attention of either company.
It paid off, said CYP President Andrew Howard.
“It’s thanks to the support of the community that we’re able to have this service in Owensboro,” he said. “This is a huge gift to the community. It’s great news, but it can be directly traced back to the huge response we got earlier this month and our many partners.”
Now, he said, the chamber is shifting its focus to recruiting more drivers. CYP will host an informational session at 10 a.m. Dec. 9 at the O.Z. Tyler Distillery on Owensboro’s west end (10 Distillery Road). He said he hopes to get across the message that becoming a driver is an easy process that can really pay off. Many drivers have other jobs and use the service as a way to supplement their incomes.
The city’s first Lyft driver said that’s exactly why he signed up.
“I applied to be a driver and went through the process a while ago, because I figured they would have to offer Lyft in Owensboro eventually,” said Logan Kluck, 26, of Owensboro. “I signed up to drive for both Uber and Lyft. I have another job and I’m a musician, so I can use this as my music money.”
Kluck connected with CYP via Facebook during the group’s social media blast. Erica Yartz, a young professional member, said that’s why she knew who to call as soon as Lyft reached out to the chamber.
She downloaded the user app, Kluck activated his driver app, and within a matter of minutes she said was able to order a ride from her home in Owensboro to CYO Brewing downtown.
“It was really just a test,” she laughed. “I ran inside and told the bartender, ‘Guess how I got here — the Lyft app!’ and then I ran back outside and he took me back home.”
Applying to drive for Lyft is as simple as going online to Lyft.com and clicking the “Drive” tab. From there, users will be asked to provide information about themselves and their vehicles, including proof of insurance, registration, etc. An Automotive Finance Corp.-approved inspection must be conducted on the vehicle, and, if everything checks out, drivers will be approved and can appear on user’s apps when ready.
Media requests to Lyft and Uber have gone unanswered. It’s unclear whether Uber plans to follow Lyft’s lead in Kentucky’s fourth largest city.
By Austin Ramsey Messenger-Inquirer