Lyft Doubled Rides In 2017 As Its Rival Uber Stumbled
As Uber faltered among a cascade of crises in 2017, its U.S. rival Lyft was there to happily catch a lot of the customers. On Tuesday, the company announced it had doubled rides in the last year, reaching 375.5 million rides in the United States and Toronto, its first international market, which it launched in December.
That’s up from 162.6 million rides in 2015, or an increase of 120% in the last year.
Part of the growth for Lyft came from emerging from the shadow of Uber and presenting itself as a better option as riders grew disenchanted with its rival. The year began with the #DeleteUber campaign in which hundreds of thousands of passengers deleted the app. Since then, Uber lost its CEO, faced an investigation into its company culture, and had to rebuild its leadership team after an exodus of its top talent.
Woody Hartman, Lyft’s VP of Operations, attributed some of the growth to people’s search for an “alternative” to not only its rival Uber, but also to car ownership or public transit.
“I’ve been at Lyft five years, and every year is bigger and more exciting than the last, but 2017 really felt different,” Hartman told Forbes. “It felt like the year in which the public really got to know us for our mission and our values and that led us to bring a bunch of new passengers and drivers onto the platform and achieve the kind of growth that we did.”
In 2017, more than 23 million people took a Lyft, up from 12 million in 2016. The company also saw the number of drivers double to 1.4 million. Part of the major gains came from Lyft’s rapid expansion in 2017, which included its first international market ever.
“We started 2017 with about 55% of the U.S. population covered with Lyft and ended at 95%,” Hartman said. “So now almost everyone in America has the opportunity to take a Lyft and drive for Lyft and we’ve seen immense growth from that.”
While 2017 was a big year for Lyft in ride growth, trip numbers alone aren’t always a reliable indicator of company growth, because both companies dole out free or subsidized rides to new passengers. Lyft also counts unique users, so the 23 million people who took a Lyft in 2017 could include people who have only used it once.
Comparing the size of its business to Uber’s is also a tricky task. Uber has not released its U.S. numbers for 2017, and its business operates in 600 cities in 78 countries. For 2017, Uber’s global business completed 4 billion rides. Uber also counts 75 million monthly active riders and 3 million monthly active drivers across its global business.
For Hartman, Lyft hitting 375.5 million rides is a major milestone for another reason. When he joined in 2013, Hartman said he remembers Lyft throwing a party with a cake when it had a cumulative total of a million rides. Four years later, Lyft is now doing a million rides a day.
“It’s amazing to reflect on how much this business has grown,” Hartman said.