Ride-sharing startup Lyft has been on a mission to make its mobile ride app available in various markets around the country, recently launching service in places like Dallas, Indianapolis, and St. Paul. But its newest market is a little closer to home: Beginning Friday evening, riders in certain parts of Silicon Valley will be able to start requesting rides.
Lyft, of course, is incredibly popular in its home market of San Francisco, where it launched and where it’s been operating for the past year and a half. As a result, it’s not surprising to see the company extend the service farther south. After all, with so many people in SF working on the peninsula — and vice versa — there was likely a number of people who were able to use Lyft in one place who wished to use it in the other.
The launch, which happens tomorrow evening, will expand availability in the South Bay but it won’t totally cover the area. Lyft’s Silicon Valley service stretches from Menlo Park down to San Jose, but at launch it won’t accept rides between the San Francisco city limits and, say, Redwood City. (It will drop off in those areas, so long as the ride originates in SF or farther south in Silicon Valley.)
According to Lyft CEO Logan Green, the company is taking the same approach that it took in Los Angeles, its second market. With that launch, the ride-sharing service made itself available in just one specific part of the wide sprawl of the city: Santa Monica and Venice. Later, it expanded to other parts of the city as it felt comfortable with its ability to serve each new neighborhood.
In the same way, Lyft decided to light up the “densest, most-active swath” of the Silicon Valley market and make sure it could provide an adequate level of service there before expanding. It will close the gap between SF and Menlo Park over time — and eventually, it will likely expand into Oakland and the East Bay to serve the entire “San Francisco Bay Area.”
Lyft expects to see other similarities between Silicon Valley and L.A., like a longer average trip length. Green said that the average trip in cities like San Francisco tends to be about two miles, while in the suburbs you’ll see it be more like four or five miles. But traffic is usually less intense than in the center of major cities.
According to Green, Silicon Valley pricing per mile will be tuned down slightly from what San Francisco riders can expect to account for the longer average trip length and less traffic.
Green says that Lyft is ramped up for a bigger launch than normal, but that the company expects to be able to meet Silicon Valley demand. In part, that’s because a lot more people in Silicon Valley have cars than those in San Francisco. For a ride-sharing company, one of the advantages of operating in more suburban markets is that the number of potential drivers is a lot higher than in cities where everyone takes public transportation.
Lyft has raised $82 million from investors that include Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Mayfield Fund, K9 Ventures, and Floodgate.