Good news for Oaklanders: Lyft is expanding your way, all the way from Oakland down to Castro Valley. And good news for Lyft: They don't have to pretend they're taking "donations" in California anymore, and they're instituting surge pricing, just like Uber.
The news came out via an email to SF users this week, as was reported by Pando Daily, and the surge pricing thing is being branded as Prime Time Tips. A similar announcement about Prime Time Tips and the move away from the "donation" charade went out to Los Angeles customers in mid-November, and it all stems from the decision by California lawmakers to regulate and legalize ride-sharing back in September. In other states, they're still referring to fares as donations.
Lyft co-founder John Zimmer says he's not worried about the negative comparisons to Uber, where it's not uncommon to get charged upwards of $40 for a ride under surge pricing. He says that they are just reacting to user "feedback that they were frustrated they couldn’t get a ride" during prime hours something this editor can attest to the first few times I tried to use Lyft, which is why I've pretty much stuck to Uber X. Prime Time Tips provides more revenue to drivers than Uber's surge model, which Lyft hopes will encourage more of their drivers to work during those prime hours.
The expansion to Oakland follows on other expansions in California in Sacramento, the South Bay, and to outlying parts of L.A. like Pasadena, Long Beach, and Malibu. And it's likely to become popular pretty quick over there, because if there's anywhere where it's harder to find a cab than in San Francisco, it's Oakland.