The impact of Lyft
Over the past few years it has felt a lot like the traditional taxi industry is being forced out into the wilderness. The industry might not yet be dying, but the irresistible modernising force of technology is certainly changing the game. Uber is the most well-known of the new taxi firms – but what if you are looking for an alternative? What if you would like to give your money to a taxi company which isn’t mired in a seemingly endless stream of sexual harassment, corporate espionage and anti-trust lawsuits? If you live in the USA, Lyft is Uber’s closest competitor and has been making a big impact of its own.
Lyft was launched in 2012 to provide a technically advanced and cheap alternative to the usual taxi services which served towns and cities across the USA. A journey with Lyft is meant to be a more personal experience due to it being an on-demand rideshare – you use the mobile app to request a ride from a nearby driver who then picks you up and takes you to your destination. The app informs you of who your driver is and allows you to rate each other, hopefully making journeys more amicable for both drivers and passengers. Much like Uber, Lyft is investing heavily in driverless car technology which will theoretically allow them to reach the next level in the future with a fleet of cars in constant motion in the cities of the future.
The company recently released its 2017 economic report and there are a few extremely interesting points contained within it from which deserve a larger audience. The headline statistic is that Lyft provided 375.5 million rides in 2017. This represents growth of approximately 130% over the figures for 2016. Other areas of growth include the total number of passengers served – 23 million – and a total of 1.4 million drivers which represents a 100% year-on-year increase.
Total driver earnings increased by 140% up to US$3.6bn for the year and the total value of the tips paid to drivers increased by 120% up to a total of US$240m. This is clearly a company on an impressive commercial and financial curve.
However, perhaps the most interesting claim is found elsewhere in the report and concerns the wider impact Lyft is having on people’s lifestyle and habits.
The ride-share company claims that a quarter of a million people who use its platform decided to give up their own personal vehicle in 2017. Lyft, according to its own figures, is simply so good and so cheap that many people do not need their own car anymore. In addition to this, half of their customers report using their vehicles less and a full 83% of Lyft customers said that they would be open to hailing and sharing a self-driving vehicle when they are available.
Needless to say, this is a big deal in a society as obsessed with cars as the USA is – but the point Lyft seems to be trying to make with its 2017 report is a wider one. If these figures are anything like accurate then it is clear that Lyft is helping to both reduce traffic congestion and improve community mobility. These are not trivial issues in the modern world. The figures indicating a general acceptance of potential self-driving cars only go to reinforce this. If such large numbers of people are willing to ride share in self-driving vehicles then traffic congestion will go down even further in the future, to the benefit of everyone involved.
It is likely that Lyft is not the only ride-sharing service in the world which is having this effect on its customers. Services such as these could have a serious positive impact on the world if the trends indicated in Lyft’s 2017 report continue to grow. Now, if only they could put worker’s rights on a similar level as the pursuit of profit, we might have something which truly is of benefit to everyone...