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AURORA | For nearly 9 months, Johnny Gomez has driven his Chevy Traverse through Aurora and metro Denver streets as a Lyft driver — a kind of freelance taxi cab driver.
To cope with the normal wear and tear from driving nearly full-time on Colorado’s bumpy roads, Gomez takes his Chevy to a local repair shop. The mechanic work can take time, he said — time he doesn’t have to get back to work. And, it costs money.
But this week, a message popped up on his Lyft app notifying him of a new, Lyft-owned mechanic shop in Aurora aiming to quickly service Lyft driver’s cars, and for less.
Gomez, who lives in Aurora, joined other Lyft drivers, company brass and local government leaders Wednesday for the Lyft-owned garage grand opening on South Havana Street near East Yale Avenue.
“Now that I know this place is open, I may have to take it in here,” he said Wednesday.
The new mechanic shop looks less like your local garage than a San Francisco tech office.
Lyft drivers waiting for a tire rotation, oil change or new spark plugs can hang out in a sleek lounge area facing Havana Street. The 20,000 square-foot space is open-aired and designed to be a home base for area drivers contracted by Lyft to drive customers all over metro Denver, Lyft officials said. Drivers can get a cup of coffee, sit in a plush chair and use clean bathrooms.
The Aurora garage is the first Lyft-owned garage in Colorado and the fourth in the country, said Gabe Cohen, Lyft’s regional director. He said the largest concentration of Denver metro Lyft drivers call Aurora home.
Lyft — a tech company that is first and foremost a cell phone application — is expanding into brick and mortar investments with its mechanic shops.
Services at the garage aren’t free for Lyft drivers, who often drive their own vehicles for the gig. But mechanic work will be fast and discounted, officials said. Normal maintenance will also be totally covered for Lyft drivers renting their vehicle directly from the company.
Lyft driver Tim Hofer said the added costs of maintaining and fixing his vehicle have cut into his profits driving Lyft full-time since 2014 — along with Lyft steadily decreasing his pay since then.
Hofer said he used to make up to $1,200 in just four days of driving full-time. Now, he’s lucky to make $800 in four days driving the same amount, but he isn’t sure why. To make up for the lost cash, he’s driving up to 60 hours a week, requiring more maintenance on his car, he said.
But Hofer said he is excited about the prospect of cheap and discounted mechanic work at Aurora’s new Lyft-owned garage.