Spokane’s sharing economy grows with addition of Lyft and Uber

Popular in urban cities and now expanding nationwide, Lyft is a ride-sharing service whose drivers’ pink mustaches indicate that they are a member of the service. (PHOTO: inside.com)

Ridesharing services Lyft and Uber are coming to Spokane (and Coeur d’Alene). Lyft launched this week and Uber launched a Twitter account in late April announcing its impending arrival. With sure-to-be-distorted or -misreported media coverage incoming, we might as well offer some clarity about what the two offer.

Lyft is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week ridesharing service whereby drivers apply to become drivers, and after background checks and driving history reports, are allowed to drive people under the Lyft brand and using the Lyft app. Once the destination is reached, passengers pay a “donation” using their debit or credit cards on the app, and Lyft takes a cut. Currently, rates for Spokane are $1.70 per mile, $0.40 per minute, $2.00 for pickup, and $1.00 for a “Trust and Safety” fee. There’s a $5.00 minimum, but as you can see with the rate structure, it can be somewhat difficult to calculate what you might pay to get to your destination without the app. Note that we’ll be one of the first fifty cities in the United States with Lyft.

Uber is a similar 24-hour, 7-day-a-week service utilizing its traditional taxi, SUV, town car, and “UberX” offerings. While UberX is similar to Lyft, it is distinguished by its controversial “surge” pricing strategy. “Surge” pricing essentially means that Uber jacks up prices by astronomical amounts during periods of high demand. Think Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Or downtown Seattle after a Seahawks game. In Spokane, I could imagine Bloomsday and Hoopfest falling under “surge” pricing. First Night. First Fridays, perhaps? It should be interesting to see how Uber implements this model in Spokane, especially given allegations that the company takes drivers off the road during these “high demand” times.

Notably, the two services will be launching at similar times, but given Spokane’s taxi-averse culture, it should be interesting to see how residents respond to the services. Local taxi companies are frustrated that licensing law doesn’t account for these new and innovative services, but it should be noted that that’s what these are: innovative new services. It’s refreshing to see startups like Lyft ($333 million in VC funding) and Uber coming to Spokane as a part of their early nationwide rollout.

Where are Spokane’s electric vehicle charging stations?

Tesla Motors’ Model S is capturing the attention of car enthusiasts, green energy advocates, and ordinary Americans alike. But does Spokane have the charging infrastructure to make electric vehicles feasible? (PHOTO: eotmblog.com)

Spokane’s electric vehicle charging network is slim to nonexistent. According to PlugShare, our city has only a paltry eleven public stations. Almost all of them are located either downtown (i.e. Steam Plant Grill, Davenport Hotel, City Hall, etc.) or at car dealerships. Worse still, the stations that we do have are pitifully slow, because there are no DC fast charging stations or Tesla Superchargers.

By comparison, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles all have hundreds–too many to count. Notably, Bend, Boise, Provo, and Ogden, the cities to which we’ve been comparing Spokane as a sort of “benchmark,” all have under twenty charging stations as well. Missoula has just one public charging station.

It’s clear that Spokane has the potential to take the lead on this. Imagine public charging stations powered entirely by our abundant hydropower and wind! Perhaps we could require new developments to include “green” features like charging stations and bike racks. Perhaps we could incentivize them. Either way, people are moving in Spokane toward electrics just as other cities are. I’ve seen multiple Tesla Model S drivers around the city, as well as drivers of Leafs and Volts. Tesla just opened a Supercharger in Ellensburg, making easy trips to Seattle more than possible, and they’re planning on adding more in Ritzville and Coeur d’Alene.

What do you think? Should Spokane be doing more to encourage electric vehicles along? Do we need a better charging infrastructure? Would you own a Tesla or a Volt or a Leaf in Spokane? Do you? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Coeur d’Alene grows up as One Lakeside gets underway

One Lakeside will feature fourteen stories of apartments and ground floor retail. The mixed-use design will utilize beautiful architecture featuring abundant glass and a perfect scale for the city.

We don’t post too much about Coeur d’Alene here at The #spokanerising Project, but we couldn’t resist bringing the news that another new high-rise will soon join McEuen and Parkside Towers on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s north shore. Ground will be broken on One Lakeside this spring in anticipation of substantial completion within two years. The fourteen-story, 173-foot tall tower will feature a large increase in units for the lot and a fancy-pants rooftop pool.

While the project was delayed due to a lawsuit from owners of the condo building north of this site, that lawsuit has now been tossed and construction will begin promptly, first with demolition of the existing two-story apartment building currently on the lot.

For more renderings of One Lakeside, follow us after the break.

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