Ride-hailing service Lyft set to make its Ottawa debut

Ride-hailing service Lyft, Uber’s greatest rival, plans to start picking up passengers in Ottawa.

More details expected from company Monday morning

Ride-hailing service Lyft, Uber’s greatest rival, is expected to make more details known later today about its plans to expand into Ottawa. (The Associated Press)

Update: Lyft started operating in Ottawa on March 15, 2018.

Ride-hailing service Lyft, Uber's greatest rival, plans to start picking up passengers in Ottawa in the next few weeks.

The company has confirmed its plans to expand into Ottawa after moving into the Toronto region late last year.

"We've very deliberate and intentional about which cities to enter into, and Ottawa was a natural fit for us," said Aaron Zifkin, the managing director of Lyft Canada.

The company is staying quiet about an official launch date, except to say that it will be in the next few weeks.

Founded in 2012 and based in San Francisco, Lyft claims to be the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the United States.

The company functions similarly to Uber: riders download the app on their smartphone, which allows them to request a ride.
Aaron Zifkin, the managing director of Lyft Canada, said an official Ottawa launch date has not been set but expects the platform will get rolling in the next few weeks. (Laura Osman/ CBC)

The app estimates how long it will take their ride to arrive at their pickup spot, and lets riders track the driver until they show up.

All payments, including tips, are also managed through the app. Like Uber, at the end of the trip riders have the option to rate their drivers.

The company has opened applications for drivers looking to work for the service in advance of the launch. Lyft drivers typically work for the platform less than 20 hours per week, Zifkin said.

Meetings in November

City officials met with the company in November to discuss the possibility of coming to Ottawa.

Lyft would be the second major company licensed under the city's private transportation provider bylaw, which lays out specific rules for app-based companies like Uber.

"We've been working very closely with all regulators in Ottawa and we'll be in full compliance by the time we launch," Zifkin said.

The company must submit regular reports to the city for auditing including: driver records, insurance coverage, valid driver license verification, vehicle safety documentation, police records checks and detailed trip data.

Meanwhile, city officials have vowed to meet with members of the taxi industry to determine the impact these new app-based ride services are having on traditional cab drivers.