Most Lyft Customers in SF Sign Up to Share Their Trips

As of January, a majority of Lyft trips in San Francisco use the ride-hail app’s “Lyft Line” carpool feature, according to the company, meaning most passengers are looking to share rides with other people taking similar trips.

Photo: Jason A. Staats/Twitter
Photo: Jason A. Staats/Twitter

Lyft Line users aren’t always matched up, and Lyft spokesperson Paige Thelen said she couldn’t tell us how many Lyft trips are actually shared. But she did say that during a January promo called “Match Muni,” when fares for many Lyft Line trips within SF were set at a flat rate of $2.25 — the same as a Muni fare — over 90 percent of Lyft Line trips were matched up. Lyft Line fares are advertised as always cheaper than regular Lyft fares, and the price doesn’t change if a match is found or not.

The stats, announced yesterday by Lyft CEO Logan Green, show progress in the app’s evolution toward functioning as a genuine “ride-share” service. Lyft and its rival, Uber, have long been given the “ride-share” misnomer when they are more accurately described as app-based taxi services with less regulation.

Lyft Line and Uber’s competing feature, UberPool, both launched in August in SF before expanding to Los Angeles and New York City. UberPool is also now in Paris. Uber hasn’t responded to a request for data on its carpool usage.

As Inc. noted yesterday, Lyft and Uber both say their goal is to make car ownership unnecessary.

  • As I understand it, the time period is as of the beginning of this year. Lyft Line has only been active for eight months (since August), and I think we can safely assume that in the months prior to January, it made up less than 50% of Lyft trips.

    We think the 50%+ stat is notable, and reporting on it doesn’t mean we’re “falling for the PR spin.” While Lyft may be selectively releasing data (and would be far from the only entity to do so), we noted it, as is our due diligence in providing context. Make what you will of it.

  • Andy Chow

    I heard that CPUC isn’t OK with this since the TNC regulation (which was forced into by Lyft’s original illegal operation) only allows exclusive rides mirroring taxis and limos.

    So just because this company uses an app, and has a “hip” brand of a pink mustache, that it can force a government agency to accept what the company wants whereas pretty much everyone else (may be except PG&E, but they’re not seen as innovative or hip) have to get approval first before running such service?

  • mx

    Ok, but why should Lyft and Uber need to get government approval to introduce new features? I’m all for reasonable regulation of TNC services, which should cover things like background checks, safety equipment, vehicle inspections, etc… But Lyft Line and UberPool are bold ideas that set out to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips while helping drivers transport as many people as possible, making them more money.

    CPUC has absolutely no regulatory structure for something like Lyft Line and UberPool. Why should we all have to wait around while it comes up with something when the technology is ready? Why should any new idea these companies have be forbidden by default until regulations are written?

    As someone who doesn’t own a car in SF, Lyft Line and UberPool have been great options for trips where I either don’t have time for Muni or where Muni’s routing would be particularly inconvenient.

  • mx

    Lyft Line only launched in August 2014. And you expect 12 months worth of data how?

    Yes, the data is selective and highlights the best stats for the company. And yes, they aren’t giving you information they don’t want to share. That’s how companies tend to operate.

  • Adam

    OK, well how about reporting data for the 7-8 months since Lyft Line launched? The point is not the exact number of months of data, but to avoid reporting statistics that are likely to be cherry-picked to show a company in the best possible light. Of course this is how companies tend to operate. But Streetsblog doesn’t have to report these press releases (from Lyft, Yellow Cab or any other company) if the company is unwilling to provide the full picture.

  • laughtiger

    The city, however, has historically regulated jitneys. In a saner process these would be seen as dynamic jitney services, licensed as such, and regulated by the city instead of the PUC, which lacks the resources to oversee “TNCs” anyway.

  • laughtiger

    I’ve come to the conclusion that you can never believe one single factoid spun from the lips of Lyft or Uber spokespeople. These companies should be regulated by the MTA, and with their data, brought into an integrated transit system like Muni and taxis.

  • laughtiger

    Let’s stop giving these statements the dignity of being called “stats.” There is little or no context provided to understand these as actual statistics. These are better called “factoids.”

    Before Lyft and Uber rolled out, we were seeing the development of similar technology in the taxi industry (eg the electronic waybill system mandated by the MTA) which produced data that the MTA could actually use. Now we are reduced to hoping that a private corporation will choose not to release their data too selectively? Instead of the public owning the data, we are hoping for scraps.

    The enclosure of data by companies like Uber and Lyft is a major step backward. I’d like to hear what streetsblog thinks of this issue.

  • Andy Chow

    In some ways I worry about city regulations, because city politicians are generally not reliable, and like to use regulations for promote other agendas (including “labor peace” and such) not pertaining to safety. Such regulations have pretty much created the taxi industry that’s on decline.

    On the other hand these companies’ record of running around the law concerning. Don’t like the law? Flood them and force their hands to regulate in the companies favor. What’s the difference between them and PG&E? These companies have the appearance of being hip and innovative, and get a pass from city politicians that PG&E doesn’t get.

  • Kevin

    I agree, there is no real data or stats. The Lyft spokesperson “couldn’t tell us how many Lyft trips are actually shared.” The story here should’ve mentioned that. If the data isn’t verified by a third party or regulated by some reporting agency, your article should be highly skeptical of Lyfts assertions.

  • laughtiger

    As you may know, the PUC is currently under investigation for the kind of passes it was handing out to corporations like PG&E. During the same time period, no less, in which the PUC created the “TNC” category for Uber and its like. There have already been allegations of backchannel communications between the PUC and Uber during the decisionmaking process. I suppose we’ll see if the investigation turns anything up.

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