By now you've probably heard about the ride-share fever that's sweeping through the 305, a game changer for anyone looking travel in Miami-Dade. Two app-based car services -- UberX and Lyft -- are currently motoring folks all over the county, despite the fact that well, it's kind of illegal. Regardless, both companies are stirring up a lot of attention, which begs the question: when are UberX and Lyft branching out to the rest of South Florida?
The answer is a bummer.
As of right now, neither company has any concrete plans to set up shop in Broward or Palm Beach counties.
"We are thrilled to be in Miami, our fourth city in Florida experiencing the benefits of services like uberX," Natalia Montalvo, a company spokesperson, told New Times last week in an email. "As uberX continues to expand, we often assess user demand in surrounding cities to determine the viability of uberX in different markets. We are excited about the potential opportunity to connect riders and drivers in South Florida."
Over on the Lyft side, Paige Thelen told us that her company also doesn't have any set idea if and when they'll expand. Lyft will keep looking for opportunities should it make sense, she said.
So what gives?
Thanks to the thorny state and local laws handcuffing taxi services, not to mention a strong push back from taxi driver's unions, both companies are taking a gamble by even operating in Miami-Dade. Lyft launched in mid-May, UberX just last week. But Miami-Dade has already begun dropping $2,000 fines on the companies for operating in a grey area, and by Friday they were impounding vehicles. So it makes sense for the companies to concentrate their test-run in one county, rather than splash into all three at once.
That said, both apps are missing out. Broward and Palm Beach are both opportunities, both in terms of population and the need for transportation options. (Considering we're talking about hip, venture capital-backed services, just imagine the killing both companies could do in a trend-f#cking, status-conscious war zone like Palm Beach.) Plus, if Miami-Dade's political leaders are digging their heels in against ride-sharing, the BroCo or PBC establishments might realize a good deal when they see it, be more open and accepting.
Another interesting wrinkle that points to car service demand all-points north is the number of drivers from Broward and Palm Beach who are signing up to work for UberX and Lyft in Miami-Dade. We don't have hard stats on this: Uber declined to give us information on where their drivers call home; Lyft never followed up with the information. But anecdotally, we've run into a number of drivers from the 954 and 561 who are working Miami-Dade. The opportunity was just too good to pass up.