Carrie Rengers

Ride-sharing Lyft to begin serving Wichita on Thursday

Lyft, a ride-sharing competitor to Uber, is entering the Wichita market.
Lyft, a ride-sharing competitor to Uber, is entering the Wichita market. The Wichita Eagle

Lyft, a ride-sharing Uber competitor, is starting service in Wichita at noon on Thursday.

The San Francisco-based company, which operates in more than 200 cities, is opening 40 new markets across the country simultaneously on Thursday and plans more than 100 total new markets this year.

“The drivers here are real excited about having an alternative,” says Teajai Kimsey, a Wichitan who was just approved to drive for Lyft.

Uber has three reserved parking spaces at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport. Lyft has not worked out anything there yet, says director of airports Victor White.

“They just contacted us for the very first time late yesterday,” he says. “Because they haven’t set this up in advance, we can’t let them start at the airport. … That’s going to take several weeks at least. … They’ve got a lot of things ahead of them yet to do before they can start.”

Kimsey also is an Uber driver and an ambassador for Uzurv, a reservation system that allows passengers to book Uber service in advance, and a lead driver with Wichita Area Rideshare Partners.

She says she knows of at least a dozen or so other drivers that Lyft has approved.

“Some of them have told us that they actually prefer the Lyft platform over Uber.”

Kimsey says one advantage with Lyft is that customers can tip online, which is an option Uber does not have.

“So they don’t have to have any extra cash on them.”

She says it’s especially nice for people using expense accounts.

Kimsey says she will continue to drive for Uber as well.

“It’s kind of a well-rounded thing,” she says. “You always have someone who prefers one or the other or only knows about one.”

Wichitan Adam Calven already is a Lyft driver. He says he went to Kansas City to sign up because he figured the service would expand here.

“For drivers, it’s better because the more rides we do, the smaller percentage of the fare they take from us,” he says.

He says Uber takes 25 percent from every ride. He says Lyft starts at that amount but drops according to the number of rides a driver has.

“Another nice thing about Lyft … is they have higher standards for the … vehicles they accept,” Calven says.

He says Uber allows vehicles as old as 2001 models, while Lyft permits only 2008 and newer.

“So people will get a newer, nicer ride than they might get with Uber.”

White says he welcomes Lyft and is eager for it to start because he wants “as many choices as possible” for airport visitors.

“Uber has proven to be extremely popular and extremely successful in the year that they’ve been out here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lyft has similar results.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers