At any given time, 80 percent of the seats in cars on the road travel empty.
In a step toward tackling that, the app-enabled ride-hailing service Lyft will launch Lyft Line in South Florida on Thursday. Lyft Line is its car-pooling option, allowing passengers to share their ride with others going the same way for a discounted price. More passengers means more affordable rides and fewer cars on the road.
Lyft Line first launched in San Francisco in August 2014, and it is now available in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and now the Miami area. Lyft Line, which matches up riders going the same way through its algorithm, now accounts for more than half of all Lyft rides in San Francisco and in New York, said Lyft Operations Executive Jaime Raczka.
“Miami is a natural place for us to launch,” said Raczka, from San Francisco, where Lyft is headquartered. Beyond work commuters, “when we look at who is using Lyft in Miami, we see a lot of college students, we see a lot of people going out to party in South Beach, and Lyft Line is an option for both of these groups to get home safely and more affordably. … This product really connects to the very core mission of Lyft, which is to connect people and communities and fill seats on the road.”
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Lyft Line will be available in Lyft’s entire service area, from Homestead to northern Palm Beach County. But the discounts will be steepest in its “Extended Discount Zone” covering downtown Miami, Brickell, Wynwood, South Beach and Coral Gables, where rides will be up to 40 percent off a typical Lyft fare, Raczka said. That’s because this zone has the highest passenger density. Outside the zone, costs will vary factoring in miles and time of day but will always be cheaper than a regular Lyft fare, she said. Lyft Line, and the fare, will appear as an option on the app.
Lyft would not disclose its customer or driver numbers in South Florida, but said it has 315,000 drivers and 5 million passengers nationwide.
Competitor Uber launched its similar service, UberPool, in Miami, Miami Beach and parts of Coral Gables in mid-November. Uber and Lyft, which began operating in Miami-Dade County in 2014, remain technically illegal in the county, though enforcement attempts have practically ceased. The Miami-Dade County Commission has granted preliminary approval to new regulations, and Thursday, the commission is holding a “workshop” meeting to try to hammer out issues such as driver insurance and background checks, with a final vote expected until next month. Broward and Palm Beach counties last summer both revised their laws to make room for ride-hailing companies.
Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg