Uber, Lyft services now available locally

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

David Newland, of Bellaire, is an Uber/Lyft driver on a part-time basis, shuttling customers back and forth between local businesses as well as to other venues throughout northern Michigan, such as casinos. 


REGION – If you need a ride somewhere in a larger metropolitan area throughout in the world, all you currently have to do is hit the Uber or Lyft "app" digital button on your smartphone. Within minutes a driver in a cleaner, newer model vehicle will appear to transport you to your destination for a cost, which is often cheaper than a traditional taxi.

That's been the case since 2009 for those using the ridesharing (or now more accurately termed “ride-hailing”) service started in San Francisco known as Uber, meaning "a superlative example of its kind," and since 2012 for those who prefer a competing company with similar services known as "Lyft."

But in most rural, more remote and less populated areas such as Antrim and Kalkaska counties – unless you take advantage of county transportation, which is usually only available during business hours on weekdays, had cooperative family members or friends, or had a bicycle to ride in nicer weather – you were out of luck.

That's slowly changing in both counties. 

Derek Newland, a resident of rural Forest Home Township near Bellaire in Antrim County, brought his status as a qualified ridesharing driver with him when he moved north from Columbus, Ohio, in November 2017.

Since then, he has maintained his part-time service on weekend evenings whenever he's available.

"There's no set hours or times that you have to work with either company," Newland said. "You can pretty much set your own rules as to where you will go, and you just turn on your app, which also identifies you as a certified driver both to customers getting in your car, when you want to work. That's noted by the company, which loads an app of a car onto the online digital map on their website of the area that customers see, and that's how customers know if the service is available in that location.

"Some weekends, obviously, are busier than others, but I usually give several rides a night," said Newland, whose regular full-time job is in internet technology.

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