SAN DIEGO -- Lyft drivers are about to get a new perk in San Diego, where the ride-hailing giant has opened a large facility for its workers to recharge from long days on the road.
The 35,000 square-foot "driver center" is mostly a tech-enabled auto shop, where drivers can get discounted maintenance and repair services for their vehicles. But the site is also furnished with comfortable lounge spots, snacks and Wi-Fi, giving drivers a place to take a break from their work.
The facility is in a former Toys "R" Us building, but after Lyft's remodel, it's hardly recognizable. Designed to resemble a California tech office more than an auto shop, the driver center features red brick interiors, white subway tile and pastel pink fluorescent signs.
The exterior of the building has been painted a tech-typical color scheme -- white and gray -- with a custom mural by local artist Celeste Byers.
The local site employs about 20 people, including Lyft personnel who are on-site to help drivers with unfamiliar territories, like how to file taxes or how to respond to complicated encounters with passengers.
"Along with the vehicle services, we are also holding workshops on special topics like taxes and offering drivers access to associates to answer questions," said Hao Meng, who serves as Southern California general manager.
The workshops are free for drivers.
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Lyft's competitor, Uber, has a similar offering called Uber Greenlight Locations, where people can get vehicle inspections to become drivers and in-person support. One such hub is in the pyramid building at 7310 Miramar Road. Some of these sites are in existing auto centers, like Jiffy Lube.
The San Diego Lyft driver center is the fifth such facility in the U.S. (and the largest open to date), with locations newly opened in Austin, Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco. In 2018, the company announced a planned $100 million investment in these driver centers, positioning the idea as a strategy to win over drivers from its competitor Uber.