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Lyft reports threefold increase in rides over past year in Phoenix

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

PHOENIX — Ride-sharing company Lyft has reported a 300 percent increase in the number of rides taken in Phoenix over the past year.

“Phoenix has seen some really explosive growth,” Drena Kusari, Lyft’s general manager for the Southwest region, said. “This is a really incredible trajectory that we’re seeing. We expect that growth rate will continue to accelerate.”

Doss Powell said he’s not surprised at the company’s growth. He said his part-time job driving has been a great help, financially and socially, to him and his family.

“[My wife and I] were looking for something flexible, with both time scheduling and that integrated with my day job – I teach,” he said. “Lyft entered the room. It has been an incredible journey.

“[The company] allowed me the flexibility to choose when it was convenient for us, as a family, for me to get out and still provide that financial security for our growing family.”

Kusari declined to indicate how many drivers now work for Lyft throughout Phoenix.

“We don’t share those numbers,” she said. “Certainly, the multiplication of the rides and the constant growth, it’s very clear.

“We’re seeing more and more people that maybe never considered using ride-sharing before now using it reliably.”

Lyft opened a Phoenix drivers’ hub Thursday. The office features a quiet place for drivers to relax and rest between rides. They can also get a free cold drink and participate in driver education and professional development.

Powell said the focus on drivers is typical of Lyft’s operations.

“The sense of community that Lyft brings is the reason I chose Lyft,” he said.

The company was founded in San Francisco in 2012, and came to Arizona in 2014.

At first, the Department of Weights and Measures which regulates taxis accused the company of operating illegally. It also said Lyft wiggled around laws requiring anyone transporting passengers to carry a license, commercial plates and minimum insurance.

The department fined drivers up to $1,800 for violations if they caught them.

Those enforcement actions stopped in 2015 as part of Gov. Doug Ducey’s encouragement of tech-minded and -related businesses.

Last year, Sky Harbor Airport began allowing Lyft and other ride-sharing companies to pick up passengers.

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