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Businesses Aim to Make Ride-hailing An Option in Northern Door

Business owners and residents are more optimistic than ever that Door County may finally fill a glaring public transportation gap in the coming months.

Approximately 50 residents and business owners turned out for a meeting at Husby’s May 9 to launch an effort to build an audience and attract drivers for the ride-hailing app Lyft.

Lyft Wisconsin marketing manager JP Biondi gave a short presentation on how the app works and answered questions from prospective riders and drivers. Louise Howson, community coordinator for the Sister Bay Advancement Association, said the goal is to get 30 drivers to sign up, providing a critical mass that will allow riders to be able to count on the availability of rides.

Some residents questioned whether there is enough demand in Door County to make Lyft or Uber viable, but Biondi said he has no doubt there is. Business owners and Howson agreed.

“It’s not about getting riders, it’s about getting the drivers,” Howson said. “Our visitors already expect it. We have 2.5 million people that come up here in the summer and the big events. There’s certainly demand in the summer.”

Biondi said drivers tend to skew older. Howson said their initial targets for recruiting drivers are churches, nonprofits, libraries, and YMCA program centers.

Howson said SBAA will distribute materials to lodging facilities to hand out to guests to make them aware Lyft is available in the area, and is also creating table tents and posters for businesses to increase awareness.

Once users sign up to drive for Lyft, there are no assigned hours or minimum number of rides a driver must provide to continue driving.

To hail a ride, users must simply download the Lyft app, provide a credit card to connect to the app, and request a ride. The cost of the ride is automatically paid through the app, as is the tip, with an amount selected by the user.

Drivers and riders are rated through the app, and may be removed from the service if their reviews are bad enough.  

Mike Holmes, owner of the Wickman House in Ellison Bay and Trixie’s in Ephraim, said he sees diners desperate for rides every night.

“For sure the demand will be there, if there’s enough drivers,” he said. “Businesses are going to have to have signs and spread the word.”

Unlike previous attempts to provide transit options, business owners are now getting heavily involved in making Lyft a reality in Door County. Holmes offered $25 gift cards to the Wickman House for the first 20 drivers who sign up. Eleven drivers signed up at the Husby’s session.

“Maybe we’re just getting a little bit more responsible,” Holmes said. “Or maybe people are just going and having experiences with Lyft or Uber in the city and realizing it’s pretty awesome to not worry about getting home safe at the end of the night.”

Howson said that after a young woman was killed in a fatal crash at Fall Festival last year in Sister Bay, the business community realized it wasn’t up to only the customer to find safe transportation.

“I had businesses that reached out to me that said we as a community need to be leaders in the effort to provide safe transportation,” Howson said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

To become a Lyft driver visit Lyft.com, or contact the Sister Bay Advancement Association at [email protected] with questions or to get promotional materials. An additional informational session will be held mid-June in Baileys Harbor.

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Lyft Driver Requirements

Drivers must be 21 years old, pass a free online DMV and background check, use an iPhone or Android smartphone, have a valid U.S. driver’s license for at least one year, provide proof of insurance, and submit a driver photo.

Drivers must also not have more than three moving violations in the last three years or one major moving violation (driving on a suspended license or reckless driving), or any DUIs or drug-related driving violation in the last seven years. Drivers may be disqualified if the background check reveals a violent crime, sexual offense, or disqualifying felony, drug-related arrest, or theft or property damage offense.

Vehicle Requirements

Vehicles must be 2002 or newer, have at least four doors, and offer five to eight seats, including the driver’s seat, and have valid plates and registration.

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