For residents of Winona, Minnesota, a college city on the
Mississippi, the possibilities on how to get from Point A to Point B are plentiful.
The city offers a four-route shuttle bus system, a taxicab company and a recreation center equipped with canoes, rollerblades and bicycles.
If all else fails, a scenic stroll can get someone almost anywhere worth going in about 20 minutes.
One thing Winona didn’t have until 2018 was Lyft, a direct driver-to-rider, cashless car service controlled solely by cell phones.
As part of the Rochester Area radius, the service extends from Red Wing to Albert Lea.
The first step in the Lyft process is to create a rider or driver profile.
Once the profile is created, users input a debit or credit card which allows money to be withdrawn as a rider and deposited as a driver.
From there, riders can type in their point for pick-up and drop off.
What happens next?
The nearest driver will be on their way to the designated pick-up point.
While the idea of getting in a stranger’s vehicle may make some
uneasy, Lyft implemented the ability for riders and drivers alike to watch a digitized progression of the ride.
Lex Lea, a Winona State University junior (in the featured photo above), jumped at the chance to join Lyft this past summer and make money doing an enjoyable task for her: driving.
She’s been a driver with Lyft for six months.
Lyft ran a background check, driver’s record check and confirmation of her license and insurance.
Every element of the application is approved individually. Drivers cannot begin until all parts have passed Lyft’s driver screening.
Lea said Lyft periodically offers instructional videos to help prepare drivers to handle situations with riders.
While she likes Lyft for its flexible hours, Lea said she uses it for fast cash and not as her primary income.
It can take a considerable amount of drives with the minimum rate that starts at $3.64 and goes up per mile.
Part of the payment for her though is the entertaining riders.
One of Lea’s favorite interactions came from a group of drunken girls who “hyped her up” by persistently calling everyone in the car, Lea included, “on point and so pretty.”
“It’s interesting that drunk people always think that they’re found to be annoying by sober people. I don’t mind, though. It’s entertaining and much better than sitting at home.”
Kaitlyn Tenney, a Winona State senior, started with Lyft in October as she saw her dad go through the process, which she described as “super easy.”
When Tenney drives, she said she prefers Thursday to Saturday nights until bar close around 1 a.m.
Despite drunken antics, Tenney said the service makes sense for Winona.
“It’s a useful service for the bar scene and convenient because
almost everyone has a phone,” Tenney said.
According to Tenney, she’s had riders who use it if they’re unable to drive and need to get to work, pick up groceries and get to
As more people learn of the service, Lyft may become the primary way to get around Winona.