On-demand ride-sharing startup Lyft is looking to make more of an impact in Southern California, with a launch in San Diego and increased community efforts in Los Angeles. That’ll open a new market for the company and hopefully quell some regulatory issues that it’s faced in another of the cities it operates in.
First, the launch: Lyft has officially opened for business in San Diego, which will be the company’s sixth market since launching in San Francisco a little more than a year ago. After a successful run here, the startup has been busy expanding into other cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and Boston.
San Diego seems like a natural city for Lyft to be in — it has a bit of a car-centric culture but there’s a dearth of good transportation alternatives for those who don’t want to drive. As we pointed out a year ago, when Uber launched in San Diego, there are only 0.55 taxis per 1,000 people in San Diego, which is actually lower than in San Francisco. Having another option through a ride-sharing service like Lyft will likely be a welcome addition to residents there.
Meanwhile in L.A., Lyft is fighting to continue operating, after the city’s transportation department served a cease-and-desist letter to it, as well as to competitors Sidecar and Uber. The startup’s community members have been petitioning the local government there, and the new mayor, Eric Garcetti, met with a driver and passenger earlier in the week to discuss the service.
The L.A. regulatory battle is partly a battle over regulatory jurisdiction. All three companies receiving cease-and-desist letters there had previously been cleared to operate in California by the Public Utilities Commission. However, the local Transportation Department has demanded that those services cease operating what amounts to unlicensed taxi services in the city.
Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer will be headed there next week for a meeting with the community to help stir support for continued operation in the city. The goal of the community meeting will be for drivers and passengers to share their stories, which can hopefully be shared with regulators going forward. (Local L.A. Lyft users can sign up to attend the meeting here.)
For Lyft, getting regulators and community members on board is now just a part of its job when it comes to expansion. We’ll likely see more of this as it enters into new markets. To do that, the company has raised a total of $83 million now, including a massive $60 million funding round from Andreessen Horowitz that it closed in May.