New Markets Get a Lyft


On the 24th day of April, Lyft announced that it is adding 24 new mid-sized U.S. cities to its rideshare service. They are billing the expansion “Lyftapalooza” but it really amounts to Lyft now operating in more U.S. cities than its nearest competitor Uber (60 versus 47). Lyft is getting extra competitive with a new 10 percent fare reduction in all markets, which should make it the cheapest ride around – and the cutest, with their signature pink mustaches to identify their cars.

As of today, San Francisco-based Lyft now operates in 60 American cities, versus 47 for Uber. (Uber has the lead globally, with service in 100 major cities worldwide as of yesterday, when they added Beijing.)  To introduce the Lyft rideshare service in its new cities, the “Lyftapalooza” celebration includes free rides for two weeks in the expansion areas. The new cities in the West are Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Fresno, Modesto, San Bernardino and Spokane. In the South, Lyft will now service Corpus Christi,  Jacksonville, Memphis, Raleigh Durham and Virginia Beach. In addition, cities added in the Midwest, North and East are Ann Arbor, Buffalo, Fairfield County & New Haven, Kansas City, Lexington, Lincoln, Louisville, North Jersey, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Rochester, Toledo and Tulsa.

For those unfamiliar with the rideshare trend, Uber and Lyft (along with Sidecar, Wingz and others) are services that through smart phone apps, allow drivers and riders to seamlessly connect and arrange for one-shared rides with short notice. The rideshare services are viewed as an alternative to taxis with technological advances like using the companies’ apps to request a pickup, GPS apps to track the driver’s arrival, and online payment (no carrying cash for riders or drivers). Afterwards, passengers and drivers each rate the other.

Both Lyft and Uber do background checks on drivers. They also conduct safety inspections on the vehicles, which tend to be in better shape than older cabs, and insure the vehicles in use and their riders.

The two main rideshare companies have grown rapidly in the last few years and continue to tout aggressive expansion plans. As demonstrated by the new markets added by Lyft today, their domestic expansion strategy it to get known as “the most reliable and available rides platform in the U.S.,” according to a spokesperson. Part of that effort has been a series of rate adjustments that have varied by market, including a 28 percent drop in Los Angeles fare costs. To keep drivers happy, the company cut its commissions so the new 10 percent decrease countrywide will not affect drivers. Lyft does not have Uber’s international presence yet, but part of the $250 million in capital it raised recently will go toward establishing one.

The convenience and pricing for the two firms are hard to beat. As Neil Patrick Harris put it when praising Uber in TIME, the days of competing with 15 other people trying to hail a cab outside a Broadway show are over.  Harris notes he can now turn on his phone, “press one button, stay for the curtain call, and hop into my waiting car without a worry.” Now, more riders in more cities can get a Lyft with the mustache-wearing cars being introduced in new markets.

By Dyanne Weiss

Los Angeles Times
Business Insider