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PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Taxi services in the Valley are getting a run for their money as ride sharing programs become more popular. So how do they work, and are they safe?
The company Lyft started in San Francisco and just launched in their 11th city - Phoenix. They don't have a fleet of cars like a traditional cab company. Instead, any car with a pink mustache is a potential Lyft, and instead of hailing one on the street, you summon one on your smartphone.
"So many times I look in my passenger seat and thought, I wish I had someone I could ride-share with," Jacqui Bohlinger said. Bohlinger recently moved to the Valley and said she became a Lyft driver to meet people.
So after applying, she went through an interview process.
"I sent in my insurance information, DMV background check, criminal background check," Bohlinger said. Now, she can go into "driver mode" anytime she wants.
"A passenger that sends a request for a Lyft will be matched to the driver that's closest in proximity," Bohlinger said.
"You have to have a car to get around in Phoenix and this helps offset the cost of owning that car," said Woody Hartman. He works for Lyft and said they calculate a donation based on time and mileage, and it's up to the passenger whether they pay that. Woody said Lyft is credit card based and the drivers are insured.
"We have a rating system and every passenger rates every driver they've had," Hartman said.
"It kind of pushes the technology forward for the fleets, kind of pushes them into an uncomfortable zone to where they have to cater to their consumers," said Steve Lopez with Clean Air Cabs. He said while it's good that cab companies have to evolve with the changes, he has some safety concerns.
"A cab driver who may or may not be employed, who may or may not have a safety record, who may or may not have been drug tested?" Lopez asked.
Again, Lyft said they do background checks and driving record checks on their drivers. And what about safety for drivers like Bohlinger? Lyft said they can call a help line in emergencies.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.