Lyft testing subscription model
App offering set number of rides for flat monthly price
LYFT IS TESTING subscription models across the country, offering customers a package of rides for a flat, discounted fee. The packages promote Lyft loyalty and some bear a resemblance to transit passes.
One customer in the Boston area received an email on July 23 inviting the recipient to try Lyft’s All-Access Plan, which offers 30 standard rides worth up to $15 apiece for a flat fee of $299 a month. The user pays any ride cost greater than $15.
“Leave the car at home and save,” the Lyft email said. “We’re creating a new subscription plan to lock in 30 rides and you’ve been selected to test it first.”
According to reports from around the country and the company’s website, Lyft is testing two basic types of subscriptions at various price points. In addition to the All-Access Plan, Lyft is also offering “commuter plans” that provide a set number of rides between home and work for a discounted price.
While transit agencies like the first and last mile connections the ride-hailing apps offer, they are increasingly worried the apps are taking ridership away from them, particularly ffrom bus and off-peak subway service. The MBTA’s ridership numbers are down, as are the numbers of most transit agencies across the country. There is also growing evidence that ride-hailing apps are increasing, not decreasing, congestion on local streets.A new report from Bruce Schaller of Schaller Consulting suggests that ride-hailing apps, often called transportation network companies, or TNCs, are increasing their market share at the expense of transit. According to the report, ride-hailing apps transported 2.61 billion passengers in 2017, a 37 percent increase from 1.9 billion in 2016. The report said 70 percent of Uber and Lyft trips are in just nine metro areas – Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. The ride-hailing apps, combined with taxis, are expected to have more ridership than local bus service in the United States by the end of this year, the report said.
The Schaller report said ride-hailing apps added 5.7 billion vehicle miles driven in the nine metro areas and took a big share of business away from transit. The report estimated 60 percent of the users of ride-hailing apps would have taken public transportation, walked, biked, or not taken a trip at all if the apps had not been available. Schaller said shared ride services operated by the ride-hailing apps don’t reduce traffic, instead adding 2.6 vehicle miles driven for each mile of personal driving removed.