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Oct. 1, 2013 8:30 am

Lyft is launching its ridesharing service in Baltimore

The San Francisco-based startup launches Oct. 10, and its headquarters is inside the Emerging Technology Center.

A sign for Lyft's office inside the ETC in Canton.

Lyft is launching its ridesharing service in Baltimore on Oct. 10.

A few tipsters told Techncial.ly Baltimore about Lyft’s impending launch in August. When we followed up directly with the San Francisco-based startup, we were told that Lyft was “currently testing national social media ads that are running in Baltimore … but [did] not have any plans to launch” at the time.

But Lyft is coming to Baltimore, and it’s setting up its Baltimore HQ inside the Emerging Technology Center‘s Canton office, as a post on the Baltimore Tech Facebook group — and a photo of a paper sign bearing Lyft’s logo — indicates.

“I’m super excited that they chose Baltimore and the ETC,” said Deb Tillett, ETC president, in an e-mail.

Lyft enlists its drivers from the pool of residents in cities where it launches. Riders summon vehicles via smartphone app, and then identify their ride by the big, fuzzy mustaches affixed to the vehicle’s front bumper.

Unlike Uber, where drivers are paid via automatic charges to riders’ credit cards from within the app interface, Lyft riders pay their drivers through “donations.” That said, Uber has launched its own ridesharing service to duke it out with Lyft, Sidecar and other similar outfits.

Riders are given the option to tip their drivers as well, but that transaction is handled through the app. (Lyft riders are discouraged from offering cash tips.) The murkiness of such an arrangement resulted in a class action filed in San Francisco district court in September by a Lyft driver, but the startup said the “lawsuit is without merit.”

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Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist in Philadelphia and the former lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. Before moving to Philadelphia in June 2014, he was a contributing writer to Baltimore City Paper and a Tech Check commentator for WYPR 88.1 FM, Baltimore city’s National Public Radio affiliate. He has written for The Atlantic, Outside, Richmond magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, Next City, Grist.org, The Atlantic Cities, and elsewhere.

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