You might have heard. If not, here is the news—Lyft, a new ride-sharing company established in the US, is coming to Canada. It’s influence is spreading, and it may be coming to your town next.
This is welcome news to people who can’t or don’t drive, especially at night, now that they are older. Ride sharing is a boon to older people. Losing our mobility is among our greatest fears as we age. It represents inconvenience, isolation and its most dreaded companion—loneliness.
I’ve been keeping an eye on ride-sharing ever since I first heard about the service—how you can hail an affordable ride, apparently, with the touch of your phone and have it arrive at your doorstep, ready to take you wherever you want to go. The bonus is the assurance that the same service would pick you up and take you home when you are ready.
Why Lyft will do better than Uber in Canada
Choosing to launch in Canada’s largest city, this is Lyft’s first expansion outside of the United States. As ride-sharing platforms go, however, Lyft is not new. It’s predecessor, Uber, has been operating in large cities all over the world, and has been in Canada for years. Uber has a cloud over its head, though. It seems to have broken its trust, a necessary component in any service intended for older people. Ushered in by highly publicised street battles with taxi drivers, who objected to its unlicensed status and fearing a take over of their passengers, Uber couldn’t seem to change its negative image.
Even today, several years after those early skirmishes, Uber has not solved its regulatory problems, and is banned from some cities. Whether it’s deserved or not, it has gained a reputation as an insular, money-focused company, exhibiting a lack of support of its own drivers and a callous attitude toward customers.
Lyft, on the other hand, has nurtured a positive first impression. In advance of its arrival in Toronto next month, it has promoted a mission and vision of community and friendliness. This will carry over into drivers interacting with passengers in a positive way, a promise that older people value.
A thoughtful vision in sync with us Olders
Tim Houghton, general manager for Lyft in Toronto, says that launching in Canada’s largest city and the fourth-biggest in North America is no accident.
Heres what he said, as reported in Huffington Post on Monday:
“We think Lyft’s values align really well with Toronto’s and we know there’s demand. We see an opportunity for ourselves in providing a better experience for everyone involved,”
Early indications promise a stellar beginning. At least 50,000 people in Toronto have downloaded the Lyft app this year in anticipation of its arrival. Several thousand drivers contacted Lyft’s U.S. website prior to Monday’s beginning recruitment.
The service intends to expand beyond Toronto. Plans are in place to extend it as far north as Newmarket, Ontario. This is a good indication to people who hope the service will be offered in other Canadian cities.
And I’m especially over the moon over this…
My searches took me to a mention of Lyft in a website that offers unique services to older people, GoGoGrandparent.
“GogoGrandparent wants to let folks live in their home for as long as possible. We started because a grandmother’s license was expiring, she had glaucoma in both eyes and was facing a future where she would be dependent on others.
By using on demand technology in a way she could understand, we were able to change that.
Today GoGoGrandparent connects seniors to ride sharing services like Lyft. Soon we’ll be doing the same thing for meals, groceries and medicine. We are working towards a platform that loved ones and their families can use to take care of each other without upending life.”
I’m not endorsing GoGoGrandparent, although it may be a perfectly exemplary company—I don’t know much about its operation. But I like its perspective. Any company sensitive to the needs of older people has my vote, and will get my business. So take a bow, Lyft and GoGoGrandparent—we could use more companies like yours!