GRAND BOULEVARD — Car-sharing service Lyft was out in Grand Boulevard trying to recruit drivers on Monday as the business expands on the South Side.
“There are some drivers who would rather not come to the South Side, but when they do, they have a good time,” said Darryl Powell, a Hyde Park pastor who has worked as a Lyft driver since May.
The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company allows private drivers to use its service to shuttle riders around the city for a fee.
“I’ve never wanted to be a cab driver, and I still don’t want to be,” Powell said. “For me, I can decide it’s a slow time and just be done for the day.”
He said he works about 10 hours a day and makes $20 an hour on normal days and upwards of $35 an hour during high-traffic times, like on St. Patrick’s Day and other holidays. Powell said good conversation is often an added bonus, especially when a rider finds out he is a pastor and wants to talk religion.
"That's one of the things I love about Lyft, the chance to talk to people," Powell said. "It's good, deep conversation sometimes."
Emily Castor, director of community relations for the company, said subscribers as far south as 73rd Street can now request rides to the airport, Downtown or other locations. She said the service would expand farther south once its able to recruit more drivers.
Ride-sharing companies like Lyft, Uber X, and Sidecar recently have come under fire from cab companies for being able undercut them on prices by not having to submit to the same requirements for insurance to protect passengers and other regulations.
Savannah Williams, a Grand Boulevard resident who has been a Lyft driver since the service came to Chicago in May 2012, said she’s enjoyed the job and had some memorable experiences, such a couple getting engaged in her Jeep during a trip Downtown.
“It’s a job if you make it a job, it’s an experience if you make it an experience,” Williams said.
During the hourlong presentation at Chicago Urban League headquarters, 4510 S. Michigan Ave., Lyft pushed its services as a community of drivers connecting with people they otherwise wouldn’t meet.
Many of the approximately 50 people at the presentation bought Lyft's pitch and lined up to sign up as drivers.
“I drive anyway, and I like driving,” said Asad Muhammad, who said the side job could supplement his paychecks as a driver for senior citizens.
But Muhammad has some hoops to jump through before he can start charging for rides in his 2005 Chevy Uplander van.
Lyft requires its drivers to own a four-door car newer than the 2000 model year and to have insurance and a clean driving record for the last three years. The company will not accept drivers convicted of driving under the influence, or those convicted of crimes involving violence, drugs, theft, sexual offenses or felonies.