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Lyft brings competition to Uber just in time for the holidays

Lyft is coming to Toronto!

Lyft is the second most popular ride-hailing app and has been around in the United States since 2012, three years after the launch of Uber.  The service will make their first introduction to the international market in Toronto, with a plan to start their business up by the end of the year. This will provide a healthy dose of competition for Uber, a company that is not that popular within the city. In October of 2015, Toronto city council amended a bylaw allowing Uber to operate after the company was hit with a lawsuit filed by the taxi and limo drivers industry in Toronto.

Uber welcomes the competition from Lyft, as Lyft’s president John Zimmer said in a statement. “We see [Toronto] as a world class city. It will likely become one of our top five markets overall,” he said. “As a city, that really shares the values that we have at Lyft- focusing on people taking care of people, treating people well, treating people with mutual respect, and promoting both inclusion and diversity.”

While Uber has faced criticism in the past few months in some major cities, including London and Montreal, Lyft has been increasing its market share in the U.S. and even recorded a growth of  $1.6 billion in financing this past year alone. The company says they are now worth $11bn. In May 2017 , Lyft struck a deal with Google’s Waymo, in order to develop self-driving cars.

The services offered by Lyft are very similar to Uber, complete with reduced prices. But, the launch of  Lyft is  also drawing criticism from the taxi industry operating in Toronto. Beck Taxi, one of the more popular taxi services operating in Toronto, said that Lyft can generate the same amount of negative consequences as Uber, referencing sex assault cases. This all has to do with the qualifications and background information of available drivers.

Lyft has began placing calls for drivers. They plan to launch next month, just in time for the holidays. Lyft will be operating in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton and have released five options that Torontonians can look forward to:

  • Regular vehicles for up to four passengers
  • Vehicles that can carry six passengers ( The plus service)
  • High end cars ( premier)
  • Luxury black cars ( Lux and Lux SUV )

No pricing information has been released, but it is expected to be in the same range as Uber pricing, hopefully with promotional discounts considering this will be their Toronto launch. Lyft has also announced it has its eyes on other major cities, including London, U.K..

It will be interesting to see how different Lyft will be in comparison to Uber and how the Toronto Taxi industry will continue to survive.

What are your thoughts on Lyft launching in Toronto and will you be trying this over Uber ? Comment below.

Spotted: Toronto’s One & Only Cosmic Cab

You may or may not have seen it. The flashy cab that has stopped at numerous red lights for many years now. Whether you’re into the pimped up ride or not, the Cosmic Cab has entertained curious Torontonians ever since it hit the streets more than a decade ago. It’s been featured in the news and even has its own hashtag (which pretty much validates its success).

I’ve lived in Toronto since I was 7 years old. Between then and now, I, like many of you, have taken thousands of cab rides to various places across the city. However, never in a million years did I think I was going to get in a taxi like ‘the Cosmic Cab’. I’ve never even heard of such a thing, despite the cab being a city attraction in itself.

I was on my way to the Aga Khan Museum when I got off the bus, as instructed by Google Maps. When it directed me to walk for another 11 minutes to reach my destination in the scorching heat, I decided to call a cab. As I waited at the nearest gas station, the a Beck Taxi pulled up. This one, however, was a brighter orange than their usual service. Silver fringe hung off the top hood and plastic dolls with blonde hair was taped to the toplight of the cab.

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Genuinely embarrassed to climb into it, I ushered the cab to keep driving.

”You called cab? Get in, very good!” the South Asian driver man yelled, whom I later learnt goes by the name Akber.

“This is it. This is how murder stories start.” I thought as I climbed in to what seemed to be a scene from a weird comedy or a Bollywood movie.  Magazines upon magazines were stuffed into the pockets in front of the back seat. There were decorations hanging off every inch of the small parameter of the cab.

I look around, shocked and slightly amused. It looked like an arcade threw up in there. Video screens were placed at behind the headboards for his passengers’ pleasure. Because my ride was so short however, I didn’t experience the vast collection of music he said he offers, including videos of “Sharukh Khan and Kajol” he promised to play for me the next time I called him. (I got his card!)

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He was an incredibly friendly man, Akber Batada. Upon hearing I was on my way to the museum, he told me anything and everything I needed to see during my time there. In a span of just four minutes, he explained his daily routine; which consisted of walks, naps, and serving his community – all with a smile that reminded you of the hospitality of a true Indian.

I asked him to permission before documenting my moments in the cab when he told me about his experience with the media. He’s had more than his 15 minutes of fame. When I told him I would be writing about this myself, he proceeded to give me some solid life advice.

“Keep going!”

I shall, Akber. I shall.

The passion he has for his job oozes out of him. His character is brighter than the strobe lights with the service to match. I would’ve certainly regretted refusing to get into the Cosmic Cab. After all, a little bit of neon  can be all you need to make your day. It just goes to show that, like Akber so effectively demonstrates in his everyday life, sometimes doing something out of the ordinary is what makes you the happiest.

Ever been in the Cosmic Cab? Tell us about it!

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