Hundreds of Lyft’s top drivers and a couple dozen press crowded into Lyft headquarters today to hear the peer-to-peer ridesharing network rolled out a bunch of announcements meant to make life easier for its drivers – including cheaper gas, lower car rental prices and a real-time payment system that allows drivers to cash out and transfer Lyft ride payments when they want.
Lyft Co-founder John Zimmer emphasized the need to take care of drivers “It’s part of the origin story to treat people better,” he said. “We want to make sure we are the company that treats you better than anyone else.”
Lyft will partner with Hertz car rental service to offer lower rate car rental services to drivers who either find themselves without a car that day or had a car break down.
According to Lyft, 60 million Americans over 25 don’t have a car and 20 percent of applicants don’t have a car that meets the driver requirements to pick up passengers. The ridesharing service plans to extend those lowered rental car rates to those who would like to drive for the peer-to-peer network but don’t currently have a car or don’t have a car up to Lyft standards, too.
The ridesharing service also announced a deal with Shell gas stations that would allow drivers to earn discounts on filling up at the pump the more they drive. Shell has more than 12,500 gas stations throughout the U.S. to service Lyft’s now more than 100,000 active drivers.
It’s not clear how the discount works, but as Lyft head of operations strategy David Rust explained, drivers can get a discount to $2 per gallon in real time as soon as they enter a personal pin code into the system to pump gas.Zimmer told the crowd today Lyft gives more than 1 million rides a week in 150 cities throughout the U.S. and expects to add more with an influx of Chinese tourists using the Didi Kuaidi app (Didi now partners with Lyft to offer rides in each others countries).
The biggest applause from the crowd came from news about the addition of Express Pay, a feature allowing drivers to instantly cash out as soon as they’ve earned money from giving a ride.
Express Pay works by drivers taking rides, receiving updated earnings, then tapping a button when the driver has money and transferring that money immediately to their bank account. Drivers can start “tapping out” as soon as they reach $50 in ride earnings. Lyft VP of product Tali Rappaport said the feature will come out next month “just in time for the holidays.”
It’s part of the origin story to treat people better. John Zimmer
But Lyft hasn’t fared well in the customer service department, compared to its rival Uber. We’ve heard several anecdotal complaints and there are plenty of sites corroborating the problem – the main ones being a lack of a customer service number and formulaic email responses.
However, Lyft might just be getting the message. it recently opened up a customer service center in Nashville and an engineering hub in Seattle to improve issues.
Today is a clear example of the company’s plan to also care for its drivers. Lyft expects all of these updates to roll out to drivers before the end of the year. More info can be found on Lyft’s blog.